Former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul has launched an online petition drive to pressure President Obama to grant clemency to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked classified information on NSA data collection and surveillance programs. Paul argues that Snowden is a legitimate whistle-blower who should be protected under the law and allowed to come home. Snowden is currently living in Russia, where he has been granted political asylum.
"By signing this petition you are telling the U.S. government that Mr. Snowden deserves the right to come home without the fear of persecution or imprisonment," Paul said in a video for the petition. "The fight to bring Edward home is only growing in momentum. Let's keep it going."Earlier this week, Paul's son, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) publicly announced a
class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration to end data collection practices by the NSA, which both Pauls say violate the U.S. Constitution and are illegal.
While Edward Snowden has expressed his desire to return home, he also says the time is not right. Reports indicate that the Russian government is willing to extend his asylum in the country, but Ron Paul believes not only should Snowden be allowed to come back, but he should be welcomed back as a hero to the American people for exposing the broad scale of NSA spying.
Public opinion of Snowden is still evenly divided, but the number of Americans who believe he is a whistle-blower and should be granted clemency is growing. Still, it is not likely that the Obama administration is going to cave as the information leaked by Snowden has been a major embarrassment for the U.S. government on a global scale and has even created tension between the Obama administration and other world leaders.