- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rep. Justin Amash threw his support Wednesday behind congressional resolutions calling for the U.S. government to abandon its cases against wanted leakers Edward J. Snowden and Julian Assange.

Mr. Amash, Michigan Libertarian, announced on Twitter that he signed on to become a co-sponsor of separate, similar resolutions urging the government to drop the charges facing the two secret-spillers.

Both resolutions were introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, and had already gained slight bipartisan support before Mr. Amash — the only registered Libertarian in Congress — joined in.

“I made these resolutions tripartisan,” Mr. Amash, a former Republican who left the GOP last year, said on Twitter where he announced supporting Ms. Gabbard’s two proposals.

Mr. Snowden, a 37-year-old former National Security Agency contractor, is wanted in the U.S. to face charges related to admittedly leaking classified material to members of the media in 2013.

Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Snowden under the U.S. Espionage Act shortly after he revealed himself to be the source of the NSA leaks, but he has lived in Russia ever since and avoided trial.

Mr. Assange, a 49-year-old Australian, was charged last year under the Espionage Act with crimes stemming from his longtime role as founder and publisher of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website.

WikiLeaks began publishing classified U.S. diplomatic and military documents in 2010, and Mr. Assange has been charged in connection with allegedly soliciting, receiving and releasing them online.

Mr. Assange is currently jailed in London while a British court weighs honoring a request for his extradition to the U.S. Moscow does not have an extradition agreement with Washington.

The resolutions from Ms. Gabbard, a former Democratic presidential hopeful, state the U.S. “should drop all charges” facing Mr. Snowden and Mr. Assange and abandon efforts to extradite the latter.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, co-sponsored the Snowden resolution with Ms. Gabbard when it was introduced in September and had been its only other supporter before Mr. Amash signed on.

More recently, Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, co-sponsored the Assange resolution when Ms. Gabbard offered it earlier this month. They are its only co-sponsors besides Mr. Amash.

President Trump, a Republican, previously called Mr. Snowden a “traitor” and suggested he should be executed for leaking secrets about the NSA’s vast surveillance operations and abilities.

Mr. Trump revealed in August he was open to pardoning Mr. Snowden, however. Mr. Gaetz, a close ally to the president, subsequently called publicly for the president to follow through.

The president applauded WikiLeaks during his 2016 election campaign when the website published material damaging to Mr. Trump’s opponent in the race, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Yet Mr. Trump has claimed ignorance of WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange when asked about either while in office.

Ms. Gabbard unsuccessfully campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination ultimately received by Joseph R. Biden. Mr. Amash briefly considered running for the Libertarian nomination but later decided against it. Neither is running to be reelected to Congress, and both are accordingly set to leave office early next year.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide