A petition for President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who admitted leaking information on classified government surveillance programs, had collected more than 18,000 signatures on the White Houseâ€™s website shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.
â€œEdward Snowden is a national hero and 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,â€ states the petition, which was created on Sunday.
Mr. Snowden, who is seeking asylum in Hong Kong, said he leaked the information to Britainâ€™s Guardian newspaper because he wanted the public to know the scope of the U.S. governmentâ€™s surveillance programs. In the past week, he has revealed the governmentâ€™s collection of millions of citizensâ€™ phone records and a top-secret program known as Prism that monitors data from top Internet companies.
The administration said Sunday that intelligence officials and the Justice Department are reviewing whether to start a criminal probe stemming from the leaks.
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