Within hours of Edward Snowden's revealing that he was the source of the stunning surveillance leak last week, thousands of people had signed a petition on the Obama White House website asking for a "full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed."
'We The People" is a forum for which the White House staff promises to review any petition that receives 100,000 signatures within a month after being posted on the official government site.
Supporters posted the petition Sunday after The Guardian newspaper published the former intelligence worker's name and an interview in which he explained why he leaked details of the National Security Agency's sweep of U.S. telephone traffic records.
The petition calls Snowden "a national hero" for blowing the whistle on the surveillance program.
The White House, however, disagrees.
"Leaks of sensitive classified information that cause harm to our national security interests are a problem, a serious problem, and they're classified for a reason," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl when asked about the notion that whoever leaked the information is a national hero.
"When you, you know, divulge information that provides a playbook, if you will, to how we - to efforts that this government undertakes to counter the efforts of those who would kill Americans or attack the United States in some ways, or our allies, you're assisting them in evading those measures," Carney said.