[If]President Obama pardons Edward Snowden. Can any US agency do anything?[ ed.title]

There are several petitions online encouraging President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden. So, if Snowden does get a presidential pardon, Is there anything ANY government agency could somehow still bring him to trial for?
Is a presidential pardon a complete “get out of free for what you’ve done” card, or could a creative prosecutor still find something to still charge him with (with any reasonable chance of success? )

The President can only pardon federal crimes, so a state prosecutor could charge him, if there are any state crimes he’s committed.

It also depends on the text of the actual pardon itself. The President can grant a blanket pardon covering any and all illegal acts against the United States, or he can pardon specific acts, and say nothing about other hypothetical acts. If a federal prosecutor thinks he has evidence of a crime not covered by the pardon, he can bring charges.

And the states can do whatever they want, but it seems unlikely to me that Snowden would be guilty of any state crime.

I know Snowden is a hero to some people but if the US Government gets it’s hands on him he will be in prison for a long, long time. Obama is no fan of Snowden.

Federal prosecutors ultimately answer to the Attorney General, who answers to the President, so it’s very unlikely that any would try to indict Snowden after the President pardoned him.

It’s of course true that the text of the pardon matters. Ford pardoned Nixon for all Federal offenses that Nixon may have committed during his entire time in office as President (Text Of President Ford’s Pardon Proclamation), so that was that for any subsequent Federal prosecution of the disgraced ex-chief executive.

An Obama pardon of Snowden might be narrowly-enough drawn that one of the President’s successors could give the green light for a prosecution of some Federal offense that fell outside its scope. Obama, if he really wanted to let Snowden off the hook, would almost certainly issue a broadly-worded pardon.

But I doubt he will pardon him at all. I know I wouldn’t.

Would it be possible to add an “if” to the title of this thread so it doesn’t look like a done thing?


My first thought is how could he even pardon him? Wouldn’t he have to be convicted of something first?

And, even if he did, (as other posters pointed out) the pardon would only cover federal crimes would he have to stay in federal property (and DC?) or risk arrest by state law enforcement.

There have been numerous pardons without a charge, let alone a conviction. Ford’s pardoning of Nixon, Carter pardoning draft resisters (most of whom were never convicted), etc.

Federal property isn’t a sanctuary. Does any state have anything they can charge Snowden with?

I bet Snowden didn’t file a state income tax return for the year he fled.

Why would you bet that?


Can a new president overturn a pardon? I’ve never heard of a pardon overturned before, which causes me to think it’s not possible. But maybe it’s just never been done before.

No. No more than he can overturn a law the old president signed, or retroactively fire the old president’s cabinet and take back their salaries.

Didn’t know that. I thought you could only be pardoned after the fact.

Isn’t it? Can a state police officer march into federal property and drag someone off to a state jail? That sounds like an act of secession:) What is the procedure for such things (I’d assume usually a federal rangers would be more than happy to arrest someone on behalf of their state colleagues, but is there such a thing as extradition from federal to state land?)

Are there state espionage laws? He was working in Hawaii when the leak happened. Also possibly he broke some hacking laws?

Nixon-Ford: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=18864469

It depends a lot on what kind of federal land or facility we’re talking about. Also, it’s very possible to commit a state crime while on federal property. The relevant jurisdictions would cooperate to ensure that you are delivered to the appropriate place to face charges. The simplest case is that the state would issue an arrest warrant and ask the relevant federal authority to execute it.

Some states do actually have espionage and treason statutes. But you would have to show that Snowden’s actions were directed at the state government, and everything that he did was pretty clearly directed at the federal government, involving federal property, systems, and information, and taking place in a federal facility.

Seriously. This is a forum for factual answers. I’m curious as to what facts you have to support your bet.

He has a very large number of supporters world-wide. Why wouldn’t one of them help make sure he’s squeaky clean outside his so-called whistle-blowing activities?

Oh, gee, I guess you got me there. I have no way to verify whether Snowden filed (or continues to file) his income tax returns.

So, if you believe that Snowden tells his KGB handlers every April 14th “Gee guys, can we skip tomorrow’s interrogation session 'cause I got to stay home and file my US state and federal tax returns?” you just go ahead and believe that. I have nothing to prove otherwise.

You edited your post after I made my previous reply, so let me make a new reply to your edited post:

Of course, the supporter would have to obtain a legal power of attorney from Snowden to file his income tax returns. You can’t just file returns on behalf of a stranger.

So please present your proof that some world-wide supporter has been doing this.