NSA Leaks: The Debate Over Clemency for Edward Snowden Grows

But most Americans say he was wrong to leak the data

NSATwo prominent newspapers have taken a strong position regarding how the U.S. government should handle Edward Snowden, who leaked classified data he obtained while working at the National Security Agency (NSA).

The New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian published editorials on Wednesday urging the U.S. to offer the clemency to the source of the NSA leaks that have embarrassed Washington for months. While the newspapers say the NSA leaks have made Americans aware of government misconduct, in a recent poll a majority of Americans think Snowden endangered national security, the Washington Post notes.

The Times argued that two federal judges have found the government’s activities — as revealed by the NSA leaks — unconstitutional and that the Obama administration is moving to overhaul the surveillance program due to the NSA leaks. The newspaper said that the NSA leaks had exposed government abuses and that “Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight,” because he had done the U.S. “a great service,” even if he broke the law.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong and the Russia after revealing large numbers of classified documents he took from NSA computers. He remains in Russia, out of reach of U.S. law enforcement officials.

According to a November poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 55% of Americans think Snowden did the “wrong thing” in disclosing the NSA leaks. 52% of respondents felt he should face criminal charges, compared to just 38% who though he should not be charged over the NSA leaks. If Snowden returns to the U.S. he faces espionage charges over the NSA leaks.

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