On Tuesday, the White House reiterated its stance that Edward Snowden’s revelations were harmful and dangerous to U.S. national security. The former contractor for the National Security Agency faces espionage charges that were issued after journalist Glenn Greenwald published part of Snowden’s trove of classified information in The Guardian in 2013.

Despite the passage in Congress of the USA Freedom Act in June, which curbed the government’s ability to conduct mass bulk collection of American citizens’ phone records, many on Capitol Hill stand by their characterization of Snowden as a traitor. The Guardian reports:

“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,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s adviser on homeland security and counter-terrorism, said in a statement.

“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.

The US government filed espionage charges against Snowden shortly after his revelations were made public. He has been living under asylum in Moscow, after fleeing the US for Hong Kong in the wake of the leaks. Civil liberties advocates have argued that Snowden’s actions were courageous and stepped up calls on the Obama administration to grant him clemency. In their petition to the White House, nearly 168,000 signatories hailed Snowden as “a national hero … [who] should be immediately issued a 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”.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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