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Newspapers in the United States and Britain on Thursday simultaneously pushed the Barack Obama administration to give the whistleblower Edward Snowden a pardon.
With Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor, already being deemed a hero by many in the world arena, offering him clemency would also cater to the US' interests as it could help mitigate the damage done to the US' image by Snowden's leaks.
An editorial in The Guardian, the first newspaper that published information based on Snowden's leaks, said: "We hope that calm heads within the present administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr Snowden to return to the US with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself."
Indeed, if the United States wants to continue with its self-proclaimed role as a beacon of democracy and a champion of human rights, it should set an example in respecting and protecting individual rights and privacy.
Snowden has raised serious issues of public importance, which were previously hidden, or, worse, dishonestly concealed.
The young American has revealed US malpractices that encroach upon the rights of both states and individuals. His leaks about the insidious and pervasive US surveillance practices have prompted countries around the world to pay unprecedented attention to enhancing information security as an important part of national security.
Given the magnitude of Snowden's leaks last year, what he has revealed so far may be only the tip of the iceberg. But to continue to hound Snowden as a criminal would not be in the US' interests, as it would only ensure his lasting fame and further tarnish the US' public image.
In a Christmas message, Snowden called for an end to the US surveillance. He spoke for people around the world, especially those victimized by the US surveillance program. In fact, showing leniency to Snowden is only the first step Washington should take. The US still owes the world, its own citizens included, an honest account of its notorious spying programs and a solemn pledge that it will increase transparency.