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Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden is right to flee U.S.

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Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers who was charged in 1971 for theft and conspiracy, says NSA leaker Edward Snowden actually made the right call in fleeing the United States in search of asylum abroad.

"Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did," Mr. Ellsberg writes in an opinion piece in The Washington Post. "I don't agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago."

Mr. Ellsberg writes that when he finally surrendered in Boston after going underground for nearly two weeks after giving copies to The New York Times and The Post, he was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. For the two years, he was under indictment (the trial was dismissed in 1973). He writes that he was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures.

The then-classified documents Mr. Ellsberg released revealed that the government had misled the public about the escalation of the war in Vietnam.

"I hope Snowden's revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here," Mr. Ellsberg writes. "There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail."

The latest reports have Mr. Snowden holed up in a transit area at a Moscow airport after leaving Hong Kong a few weeks ago. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered him asylum.

"Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law," Mr. Ellsberg writes. "I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely."

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