Could Snowden (in theory) be pardoned by the US president?

  • The German Tagesschau writes* that Snowden was not among those pardoned by Obama, contrary to prior speculations.

    As far as I am aware, pardoning means to reduce a sentence. However, I thought that Snowden was not convicted of anything at this time. Could he still be pardoned by the POTUS, and what exactly would such a pardon mean?


    * link is in German

    But keep in mind that trump expressed his hatred for snowden

  • Panda

    Panda Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Yes, the constitution allows pardoning people who haven't been charged.

    Reduction of a sentence is not technically considered pardoning. A President can pardon someone who hasn't be charged. Pardons make an individual immune to any conviction in future.


    Article 2, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the President the right to pardon:

    [The President] shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.


    An example is Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned. The pardon absolved the former president of "all offenses against the United States which he … has committed or may have committed or taken part in" between the date of his inauguration in 1969 and his resignation in August 1974.

    This Slate article further describes why people not charged can be pardoned.


    Snowden can actually be pardoned, Obama may have meant that he "won't" pardon Snowden rather than "can't" pardon. So, the pardon means that he won't be charged for all offences he may have committed.

    WRT the last paragraph: Also, keep in mind that "can't" doesn't always mean "it's physically impossible". It might mean "it's infeasible", or "the costs outweigh the benefits".

    @QPaysTaxes: Or "It goes against my code of conduct". and such.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM