NAPLES, Fla. - People marched through Naples Saturday in support NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Constitution and the 4th Amendment. At the same time, they were protesting a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. speaking in Naples, for his comments against Snowden. We heard from both sides about why they feel so strongly.
Some call him a hero. Others call him a traitor. Edward Snowden is currently in Russia under temporary asylum. The former NSA contractor is facing charges of espionage for exposing government spying secrets, a move that put him under intense scrutiny of U.S. officials.
"Clearly, Mr. Snowden has proved that he's a felon," Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said.
"This man is a traitor who has sought assistance and refuge from some of the world's most notorious violators of liberty and human rights," U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said.
But, the tone was more supportive Saturday as the Libertarian Party of Collier County rallied to say "thank you" to Snowden. "We are here to stand with Edward Snowden, stand up for the 4th Amendment and the Constitution," party Chairman Jared Griffoni said. "He exposed a massive government spying operation on American citizens from foreign records to internet records."
The group marched to the Lincoln/Reagan Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Naples protesting keynote speaker and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton for these comments he made back in December on FOX News: "My view is," Bolton said,
"Snowden committed treason. He ought to be convicted of that and then he ought to swing from a tall oak tree."
"You don't hang a patriot," one protestor said.
"A traitor is giving information to the enemy," another said. "He just told Americans what is going on."
We caught up with Bolton who tells us, he stands by what he said. "I think he deserves it," Bolton said. He's confessed to it. I'd prosecute him and I would give him the death penalty. It's caused our country extraordinary harm and as he reveals more of what he stole, we will suffer more harm. This endangers America and the world."
Bolton spoke at the dinner about national security threats and why it's crucial for political leaders to keep Americans in the loop. As for the protestors, "They are badly misguided," Bolton said. "But, I'm happy they've got a First Amendment to protect their right to free speech unlike the citizens of Russia where their hero, Edward Snowden is now seeking asylum."
Former Congressman and candidate for President Ron Paul is petitioning President Obama to show Edward Snowden some leniency. He wants Snowden to come back to the U.S. before his amnesty in Russia expires, without facing prosecution.