Two of the most widely-read newspapers on the planet are asking the United States government to give clemency to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, and even a former official from the US State Department says she has to agree.
The editorial boards at both the New York Times and Britain’s The Guardian newspapers published similar pleas on their respective op-ed pages on New Year’s Day this week, each imploring the US government to abandon its pursuit for the former intelligence contractor.
Snowden, 30, has been in Russia since late June after he fled the US for Hong Kong. There he identified himself as the source responsible for taking a trove of classified NSA documents that have been cited by reporters at the Times, the Guardian and elsewhere during the last half-year through articles that continue to pull back the curtain on the American spy agency’s controversial and previously underreported surveillance programs. A review panel put together by US President Barack Obama released a report last month detailing 46 recommendations for reforming those programs, but the White House and Department of Justice publically remain disinterested in dropping charges of espionage against Mr. Snowden.
Both the Times’ and Guardian’s editorial board wrote this week that shot callers in Washington should reconsider.
“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,” the Times board wrote on Wednesday. “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 and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”
“We hope that calm heads within the present administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr. Snowden to return to the US with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself,” journalists at the Guardian added in their own op-ed.