Ex-wrestler Jesse Ventura vows to pardon Snowden, Manning as president
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former wrestler Jesse Ventura, who is considering a long-shot independent run for the White House, said he would immediately clear the intelligence leakers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden if elected.
Mr Ventura, who served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 and is an avid proponent of conspiracy theories, said it was "wonderful" for individuals within government to expose abuses.
"If I became president of the United States, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning would immediately be pardoned," Mr 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 US Army intelligence agent, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the leaks of 700,000 documents, including war logs and diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks website. (Manning was prosecuted as a man with the first name Bradley but later asked to be recognised as a woman named Chelsea.) Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, disclosed details of widespread US government surveillance of individuals' communications and of foreign governments. The US citizen was charged with espionage and has been granted asylum in Russia.