Posted on June 10, 2013by 

Source: The Hill
Thanks to I.

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More than 20,000 people have signed a petition urging President Obama to pardon the man who revealed details about two classified National Security Agency (NSA) programs.

The “Pardon Edward Snowden” petition created on Sunday calls the former NSA employee and government contractor “a national hero” who deserves a full pardon. The petition on the official White House website had more than 20,000 signatures as of 2:10 p.m. Monday.

“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a [sic] 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 states.

Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee and government contractor, revealed himself Sunday as the source of stories from The Guardian and The Washington Post about the NSA’s classified surveillance activities.

Snowden traveled to Hong Kong where he had been staying in a hotel, although he reportedly had checked out as of Monday.

Several lawmakers have urged the Obama administration to prosecute Snowden for revealing classified material. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said Sunday that the case has been referred to the Justice Department, and that “the Intelligence Community is currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures.”

If the Snowden petition gathers 100,000 signatures on the “We the People” website set up by the White House, it could garner an official response from the White House.

White House press secretary Jay Carney would not comment on the petition or the investigation into Snowden.

“I won’t comment specifically on an individual or his status. We obviously await a threshold being crossed and that threshold has not been crossed,” Carney said at Monday’s White House press briefing.

“In general, leaks of sensitive classified information, they cause harm to our national security and they cause a problem,” he said. “They’re classified for a reason.”

— Justin Sink contributed.

This story was last updated at 2:10 p.m.