A White House petition to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has finally reached 100,000 signatures, forcing President Obama to issue a response on the matter.
The petition attempts to pardon Snowden of any crimes he may have committed while exposing details of various controversial surveillance programs used by the NSA in monitoring for terrorist threats.
“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” the petition reads in full.
The petition reached 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of the federal government filing multiple charges of espionage against Snowden in a Virginia federal court. Because Snowden has been formally charged with a crime now, he wouldn’t be able to return to the U.S. without being prosecuted for his actions without a presidential pardon.
Washington had hoped to work with Hong Kong, where Snowden had been in exile since revealing information about the U.S. government’s role in the monitoring of Verizon phone users and the PRISM Internet surveillance program, however the Chinese territory let him flee to Moscow, Russia Sunday morning. According to Wikileaks, Snowden plans on seeking asylum in a country that will protect him.
Though he has technically violated the law, this petition indicates that Snowden still has a large amount of support among the American people for his actions. Former U.S. Congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul had previously praised Snowden, saying that he has “done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.”
His son, however, doesn’t quite agree. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has publicly called Snowden a “civil disobedient” and told CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday morning that Snowden is only making things worse for himself by fleeing to countries that are considered enemies of the U.S.
“If he cozies up to the Russian government, the Chinese government, or any of these governments that are perceived still as enemies of ours, I think that will be a real problem for him,” Paul said.