NYT calls for Snowden clemency

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The editorial board of The New York Times is urging the Obama administration to grant Edward Snowden clemency.

“It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community,” an editorial published Wednesday said.

The paper argues Snowden blew the whistle on National Security Agency activities that have “exceeded its mandate and abused its authority.” 

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A few federal judge has ruled that the NSA's phone metadata collection program is "likely unconstitutional," and a panel tasked with reviewing the agency presented a report to President Obama that’s said to contain reforms. 

“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 editorial said.

Snowden has been living in Russia since August, when its government granted him temporary asylum. He faces multiple espionage charges in the United States.

In December, the White House downplayed rumors that it would consider granting Snowden amnesty.

The Times board wrote that many in the Obama administration have accused Snowden of damaging U.S. national security, but no one has provided evidence that that has happened. 

“It’s why President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.”