erstwhile Secretary of State is pathetically trying to shame Edward Snowden to returning to the US to face charges, using language that could come straight out of the Bush-Cheney playbook, both condescending and misleading.
In a television appearance on Wednesday morning, Kerry said that if Snowden were a “patriot”, he would return to the United States from Russia to face criminal charges. Snowden was charged last June with three felonies under the 1917 Espionage Act.
“This is a man who has betrayed his country,” Kerry told CBS News. “He should man up and come back to the US.”
Of course, this is highly disingenuous on Kerry’s part. By charging him under the Espionage Act, Snowden can expect to be treated the way that Chelsea Manning was, locked up in solitary confinement for extended periods of time and subjected to other forms of torture as well, and denied access to family and lawyers. The US has revealed to the world that it cares little for due process to anyone who challenges the power of the state.
It would be madness of Snowden to return under these conditions and Kerry knows it. But Snowden and the people advising him are not fools.
Michael German, a fellow at the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, said that the administration of president Barack Obama had used the Espionage Act inconsistently, prosecuting some whistleblowers but leaving others alone.
“I think of lot commenters have pointed out that the Obama administration has charged more people who leak information of public concern to the press as spies under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined,” German said. “But what that doesn’t capture is how aggressively the Obama administration has gone after people who leak information to the press – exclusively when that information is critical of government policy.”
German said the “pre-trial abuse that was inflicted on Chelsea Manning”, stood out as an example of an aggressive application of the law. Manning was convicted last year of violating the Espionage Act and other charges and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Before her trial, Manning was held for nine months in solitary confinement under conditions later deemed “excessive” by a military judge.
Snowden will not return to the US unless the Russians turn him over or there is a deal.