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News Posted on June 20, 2013

Professor Larson Comments on Treason Charges for Washington Post 

Professor Carlton Larson commented for Wonkblog, a feature of the Washington Post website, on the possibility that Edward Snowden, who leaked information about a top-secret National Security Agency surveillance program to the media, might be tried for treason, as some lawmakers have suggested. 

Professor Larson said that a legal charge of treason must be based upon either providing "aid and comfort" to a country waging war against the United States, or "levying war" by assembling men and force against the U.S. or an individual state.  It is unlikely Snowden could be charged under either provision simply for leaking documents, Professor Larson said. 

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, were not charged with treason because the U.S. was not at war with the Soviets.  "So they were charged under espionage provisions, which would probably be the easier prosecution, for leaking classified documents," said Larson.

Carlton Larson's research interests focus on constitutional law and legal history, with a strong emphasis on the 18th century.

Washington Post article