Activists across the country are asking President Barack Obama to offer amnesty or a plea bargain to former government contractor Edward Snowden, who has been releasing classified information showing the breadth of government spying.
They are sending his Justice Department tens of thousands of copies of a recent New York Times editorial describing Snowden as a whistleblower.
"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 editorial states.
The campaign is being organized by CREDO, an arm of CREDO Mobile, a San Francisco-based telecom that aims to protect Americans' constitutional rights to privacy.
"Just a few years ago, the Obama administration refused to prosecute Bush administration officials who were involved in torture," said Becky Bond, CREDO's political director. "It would be the ultimate irony if President Obama now seeks lifetime imprisonment for a whistleblower who did this country a great service by exposing unconstitutional practices by the NSA."
Last month at a news conference, Obama said Snowden has “done unnecessary damage” to the United States’ reputation.
But he declined to weigh in on whether Snowden, who has been charged with espionage and theft of government property, should be granted amnesty after a National Security Agency official said the government should consider the option.
Snowden is living in Russia under temporary asylum.