Does Snowden deserve clemency for his actions?

Johnson City Press • Jan 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Privacy groups, critics of the National Security Agency and the editorial boards of two prominent newspapers have launched campaigns calling on President Barack Obama to offer some sort of clemency to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Obama administration, however, has indicated it has no plans to forgive Snowden for releasing information on the NSA’s surveillance activity.In fact, the president said in November that he believes Snowden, a former NSA contractor, should return to the United States where he could face federal charges.Last month, The New York Times and The Guardian both published editorials urging Obama to grant Snowden immunity from prosecution. Snowden made headlines last year when he released more than a million highly classified documents about the NSA’s surveillance program to the media. Those files demonstrated how the federal government coerced cell phone companies to reveal customer information. After releasing the files, Snowden fled to Russia.The information uncovered by Snowden’s actions prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the NSA. The lawsuit aims to force the government to disclose more details of its electronic surveillance program.Opinion polls show many Americans are divided on Snowden. Some think Snowden is a whistleblower and a hero for exposing the activity. Others, however, say he is a traitor who has harmed this nation’s security.When asked what he thought about Snowden last year, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said: “I don’t think he’s a traitor.” Snowden’s actions have sparked changes. Several major technology companies, including Google, Twitter and Facebook, have called for greater controls on government snooping. And a special investigatory panel appointed by President Obama has recommended a major overhaul of the NSA eavesdropping program.We want to hear from you. Should Snowden be prosecuted for leaking NSA information, or does he deserve clemency for what he has done? Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages soon.

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