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New York Times, Guardian Call For Leniency For Snowden

Prosecutors have accused Edward Snowden of espionage, but the editorial boards of two newspapers are asking the Obama administration for leniency.
Posted at 12:31 PM, Jan 02, 2014

Federal prosecutors have accused Edward Snowden of espionage, but the editorial boards of two major newspapers are asking the Obama administration for leniency for the man who leaked information about the NSA's surveillance and data collection practices. (Via The Guardian)

Both The New York Times and The Guardian published op-eds that essentially argued Snowden did a valuable public service by inspiring debate over the balance between security and privacy. Both sought to portray him as a whistleblower. 

The New York Times editorial reads in part: "Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed ... Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight."

And from The Guardian: "Voters might, in fact, decide they were prepared to put privacy above security — but at least they could make that choice on the basis of information."

And there's definitely been a national debate. As both op-eds point out — three federal judges have weighed in on the constitutionality of NSA phone surveillance.

Two raised questions about the program — one even calling it "almost Orwellian" — though a third said the program was legal. The conflicting rulings make a Supreme Court weigh-in almost certain. (Via RT)

Some — obviously — feel differently about the value of Snowden's actions.

Like former CIA Director James Woolsey — who told Fox News Snowden should be "hanged" if tried and convicted of treason. 

But one of the most vocal critics of the Times and Guardian pieces was Business Insider's Josh Barro — who fired off several tweets, like this one:

"The case for clemency for Snowden is a radical case against our diplomatic and intel apparatus, which people make oddly casually."

Now here's a good time to point out a difference between the two pieces. The Guardian made more of a case for pardon — while The New York Times suggested the possibility of a quote "substantially reduced punishment." As for the Obama administration — in mid-December when White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the possibility of amnesty, reporters got this response:

“There’s been no change in our position …  He ought to be returned to the United States — again, where he will face full due process and protection under our system of justice.” (Via The White House)  

Snowden is in Russia, where he's been granted temporary asylum. (Via ITN)