New York Times editorial: Snowden ‘justified,’ deserves lighter punishment

Demonstrators hold signs supporting fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Demonstrators hold signs supporting fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Credit: Reuters

The U.S. government should grant former NSA contractor Edward Snowden clemency or a plea bargain given the public value of revelations over the National Security Agency’s vast spying programs, the New York Times editorial board said on Thursday.

In its lead editorial, the newspaper said Americans now more fully understand how widely their phone calls, emails and other information are tracked. Information provided to journalists by Snowden has also prompted needed legal review of the intelligence gathering and led a presidential panel to call for a major overhaul of the agency, it said.

“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. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service,” the New York Times’ editorial board wrote.

The Guardian, a British newspaper that along with The Washington Post received Snowden’s leaked documents, also called for President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden in its own editorial published on Wednesday.

“We hope that calm heads within the present 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,” The Guardian wrote.

Snowden, living in Russia with temporary asylum, last year leaked documents he collected while working for the NSA. The United States has charged him with espionage, and more charges could follow.

The disclosures have sparked a debate over how much leeway to give the U.S. government in gathering information to protect Americans from terrorism, and have prompted numerous lawsuits.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s collection of phone call records is lawful, while another judge earlier in December questioned the program’s constitutionality. The issue is now more likely to move before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Snowden’s Russian amnesty is due to expire in August. He could face at least 30 years in prison over current charges but is more likely to face up to life in prison, the Times said.

NSA’s incoming deputy director, Rick Ledgett, recently told CBS News he would favor negotiating an amnesty with Snowden in exchange for securing the documents in his possession, but the White House has dismissed that suggestion.

The New York Times editorial board said Snowden “was clearly justified” in his leaks given that current whistleblower laws do not cover private contractors.

The editorial listed several ways the NSA had violated the public trust, saying it broke federal privacy laws “thousands of times a year,” undermined the Internet’s basic encryption system and breached the communications links of data centers around the world.

Obama, who has called on Snowden to return to the United States, should instead give him “an incentive to return home,” it said.

“When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government,” the newspaper wrote.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Breaking: National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

Music

Tiesto headlines Made in America

Electronic music legend Tiesto is ready to get in touch with his inner Rocky at the Jay Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival this weekend…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.