Should Edward Snowden be pardoned?

As President Obama concludes his term, the idea of pardoning Edward Snowden has percolated through the major media and been chattered about vociferously on social media. A petition on the White House’s We The People page has over 160,000 signatures.

The hacker and former NSA contractor remains controversial, three years after he swiped and released evidence that the US spy agency had been stockpiling massive amounts of data about internet users. Snowden argued that his actions revealed “unconstitutional activity” by the NSA and other government intelligence organizations.

The government, and many private sector cybersecurity firms, see Snowden as a criminal who broke the law and exposed state secrets.

SEE: Enterprise encryption: Trends, strategic needs, and best practices (Tech Pro Research report)

The media is equally divided. Major news organizations, some of which collaborated with or have close ties to Edward Snowden, have been vocal about the idea of a pardon. The New York Times, The Intercept, and The Verge argue in favor of a pardon and compare the Snowden leaks to the release of the Pentagon Papers.

The Washington Post argued in favor of and in opposition to pardoning their former collaborator. In the op-ed pages The Los Angeles Times also asserted both sides of the Snowden argument. BloombergView and the Chicago Tribune opposed a pardon, maintain that while Snowden performed a service, he still broke the law.

What do you think? Should Snowden be pardoned? Vote in the polls below and leave your ideas in the comments.

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Presidential pardons have a controversial history. Recipients run the gamut from political leaders to human rights activists to friends and family members. Famous beneficiaries include former President Richard Nixon, union leader Eugene Debs, Teamster Jimmy Hoffa, and Roger Clinton, President Bill Clinton’s brother. To date, President Obama has pardoned 61 people. His predecessor George W Bush pardoned 200 people during his two administrations. Bill Clinton pardoned 459 people.

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