In an interview with Katie Couric, Snowden states that, “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 cited Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as an example of this “two-tiered” justice. In March 2013, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee , Clapper denied to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, that NSA was collecting information on US citizens. This claim that was disproved by the release of a classified document disclosed by Snowden.
“When we had the most senior intelligence official in the United States, Gen. James Clapper, who lied to the American people and all of Congress on camera, under oath, in the Senate, in a famous exchange with Ron Wyden, he wasn’t even charged,” Snowden said. “But giving false testimony to Congress under oath, as he did, is a felony. It’s typically punished by three to five years in prison.”
Snowden, who is charged with multiple felonies for theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act said, “Perhaps the best-known case in recent history here is Gen. Petraeus — who shared information that was far more highly classified than I ever did with journalists,” he said. “And he shared this information not with the public for their benefit, but with his biographer and lover for personal benefit — conversations that had information, detailed information, about military special-access programs, that’s classified above top secret, conversations with the President and so on.”
“When the Government came after him, they charged him with a misdemeanor. He never spent a single day in jail, despite the type of classified information he exposed.”
Petraeus pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge in April 2015, receiving two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine. He shared a black book of highly classified “code word” documents — including the identity of covert officers and notes of National Security Council meetings — to Paula Broadwell, a biographer with whom he was having an affair.
Snowden’s US lawyers fear that a Trump administration will take a hard line against him and are seeking either to get him a last-minute pardon from President Obama or to negotiate a plea bargain, that would allow him to return to the country and a light prison sentence in federal prison, for leaking tens of thousands of classified government documents to several mainstream publications.