- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2014

Edward Snowden should be granted clemency and regarded by the U.S. government as a whistle-blower, not a traitor, two major newspapers argued this week.

The editorial boards of the New York Times and the Guardian targeted the White House with their Wednesday missives, and said the Obama administration should back off aggressive pursuit of the former National Security Agency contractor, who leaked about 1.7 million classified documents about the federal government’s surveillance operations.

Among the revelations were that the NSA mandated technology companies to reveal private users’ information and intercepted global telecommunication without warrants.

Mr. Snowden is currently under temporary asylum in Russia. The White House denied his plea for clemency in November and demanded that he return to face prosecution.

The New York Times wrote: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy.”

Part of the Times’ rationale was that Mr. Snowden’s revelations haven’t caused dramatic damage to the intelligence community or the nation’s security. Rather, they’ve only shown the government’s cavalier attitude toward privacy laws. As such, he “should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government” that’s intruded on these privacy protections, the Times wrote.

The Guardian’s editorial page called for a pardon for Mr. Snowden, saying he “gave classified information to journalists, even though he knew the likely consequences. That was an act of courage.”

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