As Rand Paul changes his tune on the Espionage Act, we take a look at some of the comments Kentucky’s senator has made about Edward Snowden.
In light of the search at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, details from the unsealing of the search warrant reveal the FBI is looking for evidence Trump may have violated the Espionage Act of 1917.
Rand Paul has always been vocal about privacy and security, notably in the wake of Edward Snowden’s intelligence leak at the National Security Agency (NSA). Now, Paul is speaking about a need to repeal the Espionage Act, describing it as an “egregious affront to the 1st amendment.”
But what did Paul have to say about Snowden and the Espionage Act in 2013? Let’s look at how the senator’s opinions have shifted during the past nine years.
What has Rand Paul said about Edward Snowden?
Rand Paul has been outspoken about whistleblower Edward Snowden during the past nine years after Snowden leaked classified intelligence from the NSA where he had been working for almost a decade.
After the NSA leak in 2013, Rand Paul spoke to CNN about Snowden in a slightly sympathetic light. He said: “Both of them [Clapper and Snowden] broke the law and history will have to determine [the judgement].” Paul initially described Snowden’s leak as an act of “civil disobedience.”
In 2015, during an interview with Reason magazine, Rand Paul discussed Edward Snowden and how a “Paul presidency would handle the NSA whistleblower’s return.” In the two years following the NSA leak, Paul took a firmer approach to Snowden.
Rand Paul told Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch: “I think there has to be laws against what Snowden did. Did he do it for a higher purpose? Does he have a high moral ground? All of that history will judge. But I’ve – sort of tongue in cheek – said if I had the choice I would put [James] Clapper and Snowden in the same jail cell.”
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Rand Paul voices disapproval of the Espionage Act
On August 13, 2022, Rand Paul once again publicly voiced his disapproval of the Espionage Act, seeking to repeal it.
“The Espionage Act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.”
Paul also shared a link to The Future of Freedom Foundation article by Jacob G Hornberger from June 2019 expressing his desire to repeal the act. Hornberger wrote about appealing the Espionage Act in light of Julian Assange’s indictment.
About the Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law, established in the wake of the US entering the First World War in Europe.
The Espionage Act makes it illegal for anyone who has information related to national defense to use it “to the injury of the United States” or “to the advantage of any foreign nation,” as reported by The Hill.
In the act’s modern iteration, it has been used to prosecute spies and leakers of classified information such as Julian Assange.
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Where is Edward Snowden now?
Interest over Snowden’s whereabouts has picked up since the February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Snowden remained silent on Twitter in the months after the invasion, although this summer he returned to the social media platform.