Former Rep. Ron Paul launches petition for Snowden clemency

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has started a petition demanding clemency for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who revealed its metadata surveillance program.

“Edward Snowden sacrificed his livelihood, citizenship, and freedom by exposing the disturbing scope of the NSA’s worldwide spying program. Thanks to one man’s courageous actions, Americans know about the truly egregious ways their government is spying on them,” Paul says in a video on his Ron Paul Channel website, which he started last summer. 

The petition asks supporters to sign the petition to bring Snowden back to the United States before his status of temporary asylum in Russia expires in late July.

“By signing this petition, you are telling the U.S. government that Mr. Snowden deserves the right to come home without the fear of persecution or imprisonment,” the webpage says. 

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Paul served in Congress from 1997 until 2013 and ran for president in the last two election cycles. 

The campaign comes as Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), filed a class action lawsuit on Wednesday against President Obama, the NSA and others involved in the government’s surveillance activities.

Sen. Paul has strongly criticized the NSA’s domestic metadata program, but doesn’t appear to agree with his father on clemency for Snowden.

In an interview last month on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Paul said he doesn’t support clemency for Snowden, but said he would favor a lesser sentence than life in prison or the death penalty. 

"I think the only way he's coming home is if someone would offer him a fair trial with a reasonable sentence," Paul said. 

Attorney General Eric Holder recently said he would be open to having a conversation if Snowden accepts responsibility for leaking highly classified government information.