Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk on Sunday launched another poll to find out whether WikiLeaks founders Julian Assange and Edward Snowden should be pardoned. “I’m not expressing an opinion, but promised to hold this election. Should Assange and Snowden be pardoned?” he asked in a tweet on Sunday. This is his third such poll after taking over the micro-blogging site.
Assange and Snowden face serious criminal charges for disclosing classified information relating to the US military. In 2010, Assange published a series of leaks involving the US military, while Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, released confidential documents about the existence of government surveillance programs.
In May 2019, the US Department of Justice said that Assange was charged with illegally obtaining, receiving and disclosing classified information. The department said that it had found Assange’s role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States (US).
In September 2019, the US filed a lawsuit against Snowden, who published a book titled ‘Permanent Record’, in violation of non-disclosure agreements signed with both the CIA and the NSA.
Assange and Snowden have fled the US and are currently in the UK and Russia respectively. In September this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship to Snowden.
In October 2020, then-US President Donald Trump said he was considering a pardon for Snowden. He said that there are many people who think that Snowden should be treated somehow differently and that others believe that he has done a very bad thing. “I’m going to watch it very well,” he said.
Today once again Musk raised this issue by starting a poll. Responding to his poll, a user said that he should not be pardoned as he was a threat to national security and sold the country’s secrets to China and Russia.
Another user, Peter Puller, said he agreed that there was a national security risk in Assange and Snowden disclosing that secret information. “I personally believe that in the long run the national security risk of not disclosing this would have been enormous,” he wrote on Twitter.
However, actor Terrence K. Williams stated that he had done nothing wrong by exposing corrupt criminals in the United States government.
Musk started a poll last month to restore former President Donald Trump’s social media accounts. Next, he started another poll asking people whether Twitter should offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided they haven’t broken the law or engaged in serious spam.
More than three million people took part in the voting. Of these, 72.4 per cent voted in favor of amnesty. Trump’s account was also restored after the poll.