Edward Snowden Pardon Petition Launches On White House Website

06/10/2013 11:07 am ET | Updated Jun 10, 2013

A petition launched on a White House website on Sunday is calling on the Obama administration to pardon Edward Snowden, the source behind the leak on the National Security Agency's phone and Internet surveillance programs.

"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," the petition reads.

As of Monday morning, the petition had more than 12,000 signatures and was quickly gaining steam. The required threshold for a formal response from the White House is 100,000 signatures.

Snowden revealed himself on Sunday as the source of the intelligence leaks in an interview with the Guardian, which first reported on the NSA collection of phone records last week. Snowden, an ex-CIA employee who was working as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, said he was motivated by his conscience to protect "basic liberties for people around the world."

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of thing ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded," Snowden said. "That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

Civil liberties advocates, including Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, have dubbed Snowden a hero for his actions. The 29 year old flew to Hong Kong on May 20 and expressed his desire to seek asylum in Iceland. It is not yet clear whether the U.S. government will request Snowden's extradition, although the Department of Justice confirmed it has started a criminal investigation into the case.

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