Instead of thanking Snowden for his public service and inviting him to come home, the U.S. government is still seeking to arrest him and try him on charges that carry long prison sentences. “The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes,” the White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday. “The U.S. government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them.”
In a criminal complaint that it filed on June 14, 2013, the Justice Department accused Snowden of stealing government property, communicating national-defense information without authorization, and revealing classified information. The last two charges were filed under the 1917 Espionage Act, which seemed to suggest that the U.S. government regards Snowden as a spy. That is absurd. Despite suggestions in some quarters, back in 2013, that Snowden might be passing along some of America’s secrets to the intelligence agencies of China or Russia, there is no evidence that this happened.