A petition filed on the White House’s website to pardon Edward Snowden passed more than 100,000 signatures on Saturday, a day after news broke that the whistle-blower was charged by the federal government.
Snowden, a former contractor working for the National Security Agency, was charged on June 14 with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information,” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” according to a complaint obtained by the Washington Post. The last two charges are under the 1917 Espionage Act.
“Edward 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,” the petition said.
The appeal, which garnered 100,529 signatures by 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, was created on June 9 and had a one-month deadline to gather the 100,000 names needed to elicit a response from the White House.
Hiding out in Hong Kong, where he said he hoped the tradition of civil protest and free speech would protect him from U.S. extradition, Snowden’s future remains uncertain.
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He has said he wants to apply for asylum in Iceland, which exactly three years ago, under the advice of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, passed one of the world’s strongest press and whistle-blower protection laws. But the Icelandic government said earlier this week that it would only offer a haven to Snowden if he applied on its soil.
Olafur Sigurvinsson, an Icelandic businessman, has said it has chartered a plane to fly Snowden from Hong Kong to the Nordic island nation, according to his former company, payment processor DataCell.
So far, extradition to the U.S. remains uncertain, too. Hong Kong officials deferred to Beijing to rule on Snowden’s future. And China’s leaders said in the state-run People’s Daily that they were uninterested in getting involved in other people’s “mess.”