The New York Times now has an official stance on NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
“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 newspaper wrote in an op-ed published late Wednesday.
“He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service,” the paper adds, arguing that Snowden should be permitted to return home and receive a plea bargain or some other form of clemency. (He’s currently hiding in Russia.)
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Considering that The New York Times remains America’s most influential paper, it’s hard to understate how significant its view here is. And it’s not alone: Both The Los Angeles Times and the Guardian have also called for amnesty for Snowden, largely for the same reasons.
It’s uncertain how much any of this will sway President Barack Obama, who has been under intense pressure from both sides to make a decision on Snowden. During a recent meeting with tech executives, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus reportedly asked the president to pardon the former NSA contractor. Obama said he could not do so.
Obama’s public stance on the issue has been pretty clear: If Snowden wanted to get the leaked information out, legal ways exist for him to do so. In other words, Snowden committed a crime.
And Obama seems to be on the side of the American public. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in November found that 52 percent of Americans said Snowden should face charges for his actions. Sixty percent said his actions harmed U.S national security.