In response to a popular online petition calling for pardoning Edward Snowden, the White House says the former NSA analyst should return home to “be judged by a jury of his peers.”
The 2013 petition calling for a pardon drew 167,000 responses.
“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” a White House response to the petition posted on the We the People website states.
“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions,” said Lisa Monaco, the White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.
Details disclosed by Snowden revealed just how pervasive government surveillance of the American people is.
Leaked court orders show the NSA collects virtually every phone call record in the United States and agency Powerpoint slides document how the NSA conducts “upstream” collection of data directly from telecommunications providers.
Under the name “Cincinnatus,” Snowden contacted the journalist Glenn Greenwald and then filmmaker Laura Poitras. He decided to work with Greenwald and Poitras after The Washington Post refused to publish 41 PowerPoint slides exposing the PRISM electronic data mining program.
After The Guardian published Greenwald’s articles on NSA surveillance, dozens of other media sources followed suit, including Der Spiegel, Le Monde and, eventually, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The reporting earned The Guardian and The Washington Post the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for exposing “widespread surveillance” and for initiating a “huge public debate about the extent of the government’s spying,” Politico reported.
Following the revelations, Snowden applied to 21 countries for political asylum. In response, the US government and Vice President Joe Biden pressured governments to refuse asylum.
The Russian government eventually granted asylum under a caveat, issued by Vladimir Putin, that Snowden discontinue “his work aimed at harming our American partners.”
Despite the US government’s contention Snowden’s revelations are criminal, he has received a number of awards, including the German “Whistleblower Prize” and “Big Brother” award, the Sam Adams Award, the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize, the IQ Award issued by Mensa, and others.