- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2013

A petition for President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who admitted leaking information on classified government surveillance programs, had collected more than 18,000 signatures on the White House’s website shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.

Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” states the petition, which was created on Sunday.

Mr. Snowden, who is seeking asylum in Hong Kong, said he leaked the information to Britain’s Guardian newspaper because he wanted the public to know the scope of the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. In the past week, he has revealed the government’s collection of millions of citizens’ phone records and a top-secret program known as Prism that monitors data from top Internet companies.

The administration said Sunday that intelligence officials and the Justice Department are reviewing whether to start a criminal probe stemming from the leaks.

The White House doesn’t respond to petitions unless they collect 100,000 signatures. The administration previously had a threshold of 25,000 signatures, but it raised the bar for commenting in January after it was being inundated with online petitions.

Another petition, demanding that Mr. Obama resign, had collected 12,868 signatures by Monday. There’s a deadline of July 7 to reach 100,000 signatures on that petition, which claims that the Obama administration’s surveillance programs have “seriously violated the Fourth Amendment” protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

SEE ALSO: Army: Snowden discharged from special forces program

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