Pardon Snowden: Will it be a Happy New Year for the Whistleblower?

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By Johnlee Varghese | December 27, 2013 8:30 PM EST

There has been an increasing support for whistleblower Edward Snowden, both in the US and across the World. In the last few weeks, the stance of high ranks of NSA has softened and even President Obama seems to be taking a cautious step over the Snowden matter. Does all this point towards Snowden getting an amnesty? - A perfect and happy start to the New Year 2014!

There is no doubt that the support for Edward Snowden has been on the rise. The Pardon Edward Snowden petition has received an overwhelming 142,947 signatures from people. While, as per the protocol, the White House should reply on behalf of President Obama, after the petition reaches the needed number of 100,000 but it is yet to receive any update though the required numbers were achieved quite some time back.

There is another petition President Obama: Grant Edward Snowden Immunity by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that boasts of a supporter base of over 500,000. The ACLU had previously challenged the US government over surveillance issues but the Supreme Court for lack of evidence had dismissed the case. Now ACLU has the evidence, all thanks to Snowden and so the organisation has come out in his support.

The petition by ACLU requires 30,000 signs and it already has 29,072 in the last count. Another sign that the majority support in the country is leaning towards whistleblower Snowden.

The National Security Agency too in the last few weeks has seen an increased bend in the high-ranks, towards granting Snowden amnesty. In a TV interview, Rick Legget the man in-charge of the Snowden Leak Task Force and the NSA Director, made the cracks visible. Legget, whose job now is to ensure such leaks never happen, said:  "it is worth having a conversation about" on the matter of granting amnesty to Snowden.

The former American NSA contractor Snowden took asylum in Russia back in June, after leaking details to the media of extensive internet and phone surveillance by American intelligence agencies. The revelations by Snowden were so massive that besides creating uproar in the US, the scale of surveillance capabilities also led to a widespread concern in Europe and several other counties.

Though President Barack Obama, who in his 9 August statement was bold in his assertion that Snowden was not a patriot seems much cautious in his stance against the former NSA contractor.

"Mr. Snowden has been charged with three felonies," he had said.

 In his Pre-Holiday Press Conference on 20 December, Obama carefully noted - "I have said before and I believe that this is an important conversation that we needed to have. I have also said before that the way in which these disclosures happened have been -- have been damaging to the United States and damaging to our intelligence capabilities. And I think that there was a way for us to have this conversation without that damage."

Since the Snowden leak, much has changed in Washington that may even lead to certain key-changes in NSA. While the President can have his Hawaii break as of now, when he returns in January 2014, the country will be looking for a 'change,' and now it's only up to him whether he tows the NSA line or respects the increasing public sentiment.

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