4 Nov 2013

No clemency for Snowden, says US senate

4:02 pm on 4 November 2013

United States officials are rejecting clemency for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the media.

Mr Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, has released a letter he sent to the German government, requesting clemency and saying he would speak to them as long as they and the United States stopped pursuing whistleblowers like himself.

The White House, however, says flatly that the 30-year-old violated the law and should return to the US and face justice, Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Washington reports.

He is getting no sympathy from the US congress either. Lawmakers are not buying his claim that speaking the truth is not a crime.

The chair of the US senate's intelligence committee says Mr Snowden could have easily come and spoken to them. But that didn't happen and they feel that he has done an enormous disservice to the US.

Meanwhile, the scale of the alleged US espionage has provoked international concern and calls for tighter supervision, the BBC.

Reports that the US bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for years have caused a diplomatic rift.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that in some cases, US spying had gone too far. He said he would work with President Barack Obama to prevent further inappropriate actions by the NSA.