A White House petition demanding a full pardon for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has reached over 100,000 signatures since its creation on June 9, meaning the Obama administration has to review the petition’s demands and issue a response.
The petition states that: “Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued 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”
Within just two weeks of the petition being on line – half the time required to collect the 100,000 signatures necessary for a review – the petition managed to attract 101,350, and the number continues to grow by the second.
The White House insisted that it welcomes “appropriate debate” over the Patriot Act in the light of Snowden’s exposure of NSA mass surveillance programs.
However, it emerged on Saturday that Snowden had been charged with violating the Espionage Act.
Snowden leaked top-secret documents to the Washington Post and the Guardian that demonstrated the existence of a US National Security Agency’s extensive spying program called PRISM. The program was designed to collect information about digital communications allowing real-time online surveillance of US citizens.
He is accused of “theft of government property,” “unauthorized communication of national defense information,” and “wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.” The US government has asked Hong Kong to detain him ahead of a possible move to extradite him.
If convicted, Snowden could face up to 30 years behind bars.