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2 newspapers call for Snowden clemency

Posted: January 2, 2014 10:26 a.m.
Updated: January 2, 2014 10:26 a.m.
 

LONDON (AP) — The New York Times and Guardian newspapers have called for clemency for Edward Snowden, saying that the espionage worker-turned-privacy advocate should be praised rather than punished for his disclosures.

The papers — both of which have played a role in publishing Snowden's intelligence trove — suggested late Wednesday that the former National Security Agency contractor's revelations about the United States' world-spanning espionage program were of such public importance that they outweighed any possible wrongdoing.

"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 said, calling either for a plea bargain, some form of clemency, or a "substantially reduced punishment."

The Guardian said it hoped "calm heads within the present (U.S.) administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr. Snowden to return to the U.S. 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."

But the paper also said it was hard to envisage President Barack Obama giving the leaker "the pardon he deserves."

Snowden is currently residing in Russia following an abortive attempt to travel to Latin America, where he'd been offered asylum. He faces espionage charges in connection with his leaks, which U.S. officials have described as damaging or even life-threatening.

U.S. officials and Snowden's Russian lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former chief of Britain's MI5, recently predicted "some kind of deal" for Snowden, although she was careful to note that she was simply speculating.

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