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November 4, 2013

White House, lawmakers dismiss Snowden's plea for clemency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and the leaders of the intelligence committee in Congress are rejecting National Security Agency-contractor Edward Snowden’s plea for clemency.

“Mr. Snowden violated U.S. law,” White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday about the former systems-analyst-turned-fugitive who has temporary asylum in Russia.

“He should return to the U.S. and face justice,” Pfeiffer said, adding when pressed that no offers for clemency were being discussed.

Snowden made the plea in a letter given to a German politician and released Friday. In his one-page typed letter, he asks for clemency for charges over allegedly leaking classified information about the NSA to the news media. “‘‘Speaking the truth is not a crime,” Snowden wrote.

Snowden’s revelations, including allegations that the U.S. has eavesdropped on allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have led to calls by allies to cease such spying, and moves by Congress to overhaul U.S. surveillance laws and curb the agency’s powers.

But head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said if Snowden had been a true whistle-blower, he could have reported it to her committee privately.

“That didn’t happen, and now he’s done this enormous disservice to our country,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “I think the answer is no clemency.”

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, called clemency for Snowden a “terrible idea.”

“He needs to come back and own up,” said Rogers, R-Mich. “If he believes there’s vulnerabilities in the systems he’d like to disclose, you don’t do it by committing a crime that actually puts soldiers’ lives at risk in places like Afghanistan.”

Rogers contended that Snowden’s revelations had caused three terrorist organizations to change how they communicate.

Both lawmakers addressed word that President Barack Obama did not realize Merkel’s personal phone was being tapped.

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