With two weeks to spare, an online petition calling on the White House to pardon National Security Agency document leaker Edward Snowden has passed the 100,000 signature benchmark to trigger an official response from the White House.
When the petition went up June 9, mere hours after Snowden revealed himself as the source of the document leak that exposed NSA’s secret data-collection programs, Snowden had yet to be charged with any crime. However, NSA disclosed it had charged Snowden with three felonies — espionage, theft and conversion of government property — on June 21. The maximum sentence for each is 10 years.
In full, the petition reads: “Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a [sic] 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.”
Snowden, who smuggled the classified documents out of NSA facilities on a thumb drive, was working as a systems analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii when he decided to release the information to journalist Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian. Snowden decamped to Hong Kong, then Russia, but was not on a flight to Havana, Cuba, on Monday, as expected.
His current whereabouts are unknown, but WikiLeaks has been assisting with Snowden’s travel costs and applications for asylum in Ecuador and Iceland, as he dodges extradition to the U.S. Ecuador has been protecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for a year, despite calls from the U.S. for extradition to the states.
Due to the classified elements involved in the case, it is unknown whether the Obama administration actually will respond to the petition.