In a recent interview with Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden spoke of a perceived double standard in the US justice system, calling out former CIA director David Petraeus as an example.
In the interview, Snowden said that Petraeus leaked "information that was far more highly classified than I ever did," but he still never "spent a single day in jail." According to Snowden, weighing Petraeus' punishment against his own status as a fugitive is evidence that justice isn't always cut and dry.
"We have a two-tiered system of justice in the United States, where people who are either well-connected to government or they have access to an incredible amount of resources get very light punishments."
Snowden came into fame after leaking information to journalists in 2013 about the NSA's spying and surveillance efforts. And, while Snowden alluded to the idea that he shared information with the public "for their benefit," he lambasted Petraeus for sharing classified information about the military and the president with "his biographer and lover for personal benefit."
For the crime of mishandling classified information, Petraeus was charged with a misdemeanor, of which he plead guilty. Snowden, as reported by Yahoo, is being charged with violating the Espionage Act, among other felonies.
The interview comes at a time when Petraeus is rumored to be on the short list for consideration as secretary of state under US president-elect Donald Trump. Additionally, Snowden supporters are working to petition current US president Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before Trump takes office.
There's no doubt that Snowden is a polarizing figure. His actions have earned him praise from some as an American hero, but he has also faced his share of demonization. Bob Gourley, co-founder of the cyber security consultancy Cognitio and former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that it is important to realize there are two sides to every story, and there are defined differences between Snowden and Petraeus.
"Every action Snowden has done, and every statement he has ever made, has to be looked at through a skeptical lens," Gourley said. "He has always acted in ways that spin things his way and likely always will. None of us should excuse Petraeus for his crime, but he had the bravery to face justice and admit wrong. Snowden may have some credibility if he does the same. Till then, I'm a skeptic."
The interview can be viewed in its entirety here.
What do you think?
Is Snowden right? Is the US justice system "two-tiered?" Tell us your opinion in the comments.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- In a recent interview with Katie Couric, Edward Snowden said that the US justice system is "two-tiered," pointing to the differences in punishments received by himself and former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking classified information.
- Petraeus is rumored to be in the running for secretary of state under president-elect Donald Trump, and Snowden's camp is petitioning US President Barack Obama for a full pardon.
- Because of his controversial nature, it is important to be skeptical and sober-minded about Snowden's actions, experts say.
- Privacy advocates rejoice: A new way to anonymize data might actually work (TechRepublic)
- Snowden says Petraeus shared 'far more highly classified material than I ever did' (ZDNet)
- Cybersecurity in President Trump's America: The first 100 days (TechRepublic)
- Trump meets with David Petraeus as he mulls secretary of state pick (CBS News)
- Tweets aren't tools for surveillance: Twitter pushes back against law enforcement (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.