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President Trump says he will issue a pardon today for someone ‘very, very important’

President Donald Trump said on Monday he would pardon a ‘very, very important’ person on Tuesday, but added it would not be NSA leaker Edward Snowden or former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

‘Doing a pardon tomorrow on someone who is very, very important,’ Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

He declined to offer further details except to say it was not Flynn or Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor now living in Russia who has been charged with leaking secret information.

On Saturday, Trump said he was considering a pardon for Snowden, who gave a trove of secret files in 2013 to news organizations that disclosed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA.

Flynn, meanwhile, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. 

The U.S. Justice Department has sought to dismiss the case against Flynn following pressure from Trump and his allies.

Last month, Trump used his presidential power to commute the sentence of longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. 

Trump’s strongest indication that he could be about to pardon 37-year-old Snowden and bring him home from exile in Russia, came at a press conference held at his Bedminster golf course on Saturday. 

‘I’m going to take a look at that very strongly,’ he said.

Snowden’s revelations triggered a debate over government eavesdropping, with some hailing him as a hero and others calling him a traitor.

Trump said he is ‘not that aware of the Snowden situation,’ but that people on both the left and the right are divided over the former contractor.

‘It seems to be a split decision,’ he said. 

‘Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.’

The president had raised also the issue last week, telling The New York Post on Thursday that he had heard the leaker was being ‘persecuted’. 

‘There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,’ Trump told the publication. 

‘I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now?… It’s certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.’ 

In 2013, Snowden shared thousands of classified documents with journalists, prompting the US government to charge him with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property.  

The Whistleblower, who was Hawaii-based, worked for the CIA and NSA for several years and  says he concluded that both agencies had ‘hacked the constitution’ with extensive government surveillance, putting everyone’s liberty at risk and forcing his hand to leak the information to the media.   

Snowden’s decision to go public with the information set off a global debate about government surveillance put in place by intelligence agencies in a perceived bid to avoid a similar attack to 9/11 from happening ever again.

He has been living in exile in Russia since he leaked the documents.  

However, last year, Snowden said his ‘ultimate goal’ was actually to return home to the US.

Though he said any such return would be dependent on the US government offering him a fair trial, something he says officials have ‘refused to guarantee’.

‘But if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial.’

Snowden said a fair trial won’t be possible as the government won’t allow him to take a public interest defense.

‘I’m not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pass. What I’m asking for is a fair trial,’ he said. 

Critics have repeatedly reminded him that by leaking the classified documents he broke both federal law and the oath he took when he joined the NSA. 

Last year, he published an autobiography, titled Permanent Record. 

The day after its publication, the US Department of Justice filed a two-count civil lawsuit against Snowden ‘alleging he had breached nondisclosure agreements signed with the U.S. federal government’.

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