The White House has responded to a petition asking that NSA leaker Edward Snowden be pardoned.
The short answer: Sorry.
Snowden, 32, is still living in Russia, and has been seeking asylum in Switzerland.
“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a 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,” stated the petition on the White House’s We the People site.
It racked up 167,954 signatures. The 100,000-signature threshold triggers a personal response from the administration, and this was delivered by Obama’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco.
“Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe,” Monaco wrote in the reply.
“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, 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.”
Monaco added that if Snowden “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,” she said.
“We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”