The Department of Justice is taking a new look at a former U.S. Navy sailor’s request for a pardon following his release from jail for taking photos of classified areas inside a nuclear submarine, his attorney said.
The letter, from the DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney, comes less than a year after the former sailor, Kristian Saucier, received a letter rejecting his pardon request on the grounds that it did not meet several criteria, including waiting five years.
The letter last year came as a disappointment to Saucier, who served one year in jail, and his supporters, given that President Donald Trump – during his campaign and after he took office -- had drawn attention to the handling of his case, describing it as overzealous and politically motivated.
I think the president is looking at this case real closely. He’s tweeted about it, he’s talked about it. I’m hoping he’ll decide in our favor. If Kris is lucky enough to get a pardon from President Trump, it would turn his life around.- Ronald Daigle, attorney
Trump and Republicans often said the prosecution of Saucier -- who said he took the photos out of pride, to show his family where he worked – and investigators' approach to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information constituted a double standard.
Saucier, who served as a machinist's mate aboard the USS Alexandria from 2007 to 2012, used his cellphone to photograph parts of the submarine's nuclear propulsion system while it was docked at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn.
Saucier, who is married and has a two-year-old daughter, began his sentence in October, 2016 at the Federal Medical Center at Fort Devens, Mass. He was released a year later, though he was placed under house arrest.
He was convicted of unauthorized retention of national defense information, which is a felony, and received an "other-than-honorable" discharge from the Navy. He faced a possible 10 years in jail, his lawyers said.
Kris and Sadie Saucier (Courtesy of Sadie Saucier)
Saucier said he meant no harm, and that others had also taken photos of similar military areas and were not punished. The Vermont resident, who was 22 when he took the photos, said his decision to take the photographs was a mistake.
Last June, Saucier’s attorneys, who had applied for a pardon from the Trump administration, got a letter from the DOJ saying they needed to wait about five years to submit a petition for the pardon.
“While we are sympathetic to his desire for clemency, we do not believe that Mr. Saucier’s circumstances in this regard are so unusual as to justify a waiver of the waiting period,” the letter last year said. “Waivers are infrequently granted and then only for particularly compelling reasons. It may ultimately be to Mr. Saucier’s benefit to wait the full five years to demonstrate that he has become fully rehabilitated and is a contributing member of society.”
We have faced so many disappointments. Is this our great president finally at work being able to correct this?- Sadie Saucier
His attorney, Ronald Daigle, told Fox News that the new DOJ letter asks the classification level assigned to the areas that Saucier photographed and also requests the names of three references.
“It was the lowest classification, it was confidential, the lowest you can get,” Daigle said.
“I think the president is looking at this case real closely,” Daigle said. “He’s tweeted about it, he’s talked about it. I’m hoping he’ll decide in our favor. If Kris is lucky enough to get a pardon from President Trump, it would turn his life around.”
The new DOJ letter notes that the pardon process “is extremely lengthy, often taking a year or more, both because of the number of matters pending before this office and the need to carefully examine and investigate applications and supporting documentation.”
Saucier’s wife, Sadie, is being cautiously optimistic.
“We have faced so many disappointments,” she told Fox News. “Is this our great president finally at work being able to correct this?”
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.