Former Minnesota governor and one-time wrestling star Jesse Ventura is throwing his political weight behind former NSA contractor and information leaker Edward Snowden, lauding him as a hero and patriot on his YouTube radio show on Tuesday, Forbes magazine reported.
"Edward Snowden risked his life to inform us, the American people, that the NSA was illegally spying on us, as if we were all guilty of concocting the next terrorist plot." Ventura said on his Internet show, "Off the Grid."
"We, the people, are now barely allowed the privilege of asking why, how come? These questions need to be asked without fear of being branded as unpatriotic or even a terror threat."
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In separate remarks, Forbes reported Tuesday, Ventura said, "Many of my fans commented on my Facebook post that the call for clemency is a trap; that Obama is in on this, that he is trying to bait Snowden to come back home so he can be arrested. That's a classic ops move, and that would make for one hell of a conspiracy theory," he said.
Ventura, who served as Minnesota governor from 1999 to 2003, is considering a longshot independent run for the White House. He earlier told news agency AFP that, if elected, he would pardon Snowden and jailed intelligence leaker Bradley Manning, who is now recognized as a woman, Chelsea Manning.
"If I became president of the United States, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning would immediately be pardoned," Ventura told AFP.
When "the government is committing crimes and doing wrongdoing, thank God we have people with courage to blow the whistle," he said.
Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence agent, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for handing over about 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Both the New York Times and The Guardian, in editorials, have called for clemency, i.e., a lesser sentence than would be expected, for Snowden.
Ventura has called for Obama to pardon Snowden rather than punish him as a traitor.
"Edward Snowden is my personal hero, and Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are right up there with him," Ventura said.
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