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New York Times, Guardian newspapers suggest clemency for Edward Snowden

  • This June 9, 2013 file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)

LONDON — The New York Times and Guardian newspapers have called for clemency for Edward Snowden, saying that the espionage worker-turned-privacy advocate should be praised rather than punished for his disclosures.

The papers — both of which have played a role in publishing Snowden's intelligence trove — suggested late Wednesday that the former National Security Agency contractor's revelations about the United States' world-spanning espionage program were of such public importance that they outweighed any possible wrongdoing.

"Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight," the Times said, calling either for a plea bargain, some form of clemency, or a "substantially reduced punishment."

The Guardian said it hoped "calm heads within the present (U.S.) administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr. Snowden to return to the U.S. with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself."

But the paper also said it was hard to envision President Barack Obama giving the leaker "the pardon he deserves."

Both newspapers published their editorials online within a few hours of one another, but Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said the papers' appeals weren't coordinated ahead of time.

"Complete coincidence," he said in an email. He credited the legal reverses suffered by the NSA's domestic dragnet, the spying reforms suggested by Obama's privacy review team and Silicon Valley companies' recent summit at the White House with bringing things to a head.

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