The White House said Snowden must still face prosecution, despite the expiration of the surveillance program under the Patriot Act.
Former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who exposed a mass spy program ruled illegal by U.S. federal courts, must still face prosecution despite the expiration of the Patriot Act, the White House said Monday.
“The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the U.S. government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them,” White House Josh Earnest said during a press briefing Monday.
The surveillance program terminated after the Senate failed to reauthorize parts of the Patriot Act which expired Sunday, although the lawmakers did vote to advance the White House-backed Freedom Act so a new form of data collection is likely to be approved in the coming days, according to BBC.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) May 31, 2015
— Markeece Young (@YoungBLKRepub) May 31, 2015
WARNING: Sections of the #PatriotAct expire at midnight, putting all of us in extreme danger of actually having basic constitutional rights.
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) June 1, 2015
The Freedom Act will curtail the phone records program by forcing the NSA to get a narrower set of records from private phone companies. The bill also requires the agency to get warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and phone call records will be maintained by the telephone companies, rather than being stored by NSA. In May, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s long-standing claim that such bulk collection was permissible under the Patriot Act, ruling instead that the NSA acted without congressional approval. However, NSA critics have expressed concern that that the bill does not go far enough to protect civil liberties of U.S. citizens, as it would still allow the intelligence agency to track calls made by people. The Freedom Act is the only legislative reform that has resulted from the Snowden’s leaks which caused public concern and debate over privacy violation by government agencies. In a series of leaked documents, Snowden revealed in 2013 that the NSA collects data from almost all U.S. phone calls, along with harvesting millions of emails and other forms of electronic communication.
Now more than ever: he made them change their laws and practices… https://t.co/HyJrnH1U95
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 1, 2015
U.S. federal prosecutors have accused Snowden of espionage and for exposing the NSA program, but escaped prosecution when granted political asylum in Russia where he currently resides.