WASHINGTON — An online White House petition calling for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to be pardoned has surpassed the 100,000 signatures required to receive an official response from the Obama administration.
“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued 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 reads.
While the petition now has enough signatures to warrant a response, it’s unlikely the White House will grant the request. The U.S. has charged Snowden with espionage and there is currently an international manhunt under way to find the alleged leaker, who fled Hong Kong on Sunday for Moscow.
According to the We The People petition website, the White House “will do our best to respond to petitions that cross the signature threshold in a timely fashion, however, depending on the topic and the overall volume of petitions from We the People, responses may be delayed.”
The White House started the petition website in 2011 as “a platform for all Americans to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues.” But it has often provided an outlet for the president’s political opponents. The threshold for a White House response was raised from 25,000 signatures to 100,000 early this year.
One of the most successful petitions called on the president to do more to curb gun violence.
Another petition encouraged Texas to secede from the union.
At other times it has been hijacked by Internet pranksters like those who called on the president to back the construction of a “Star Wars”-style Death Star.
As of this writing, the petition to pardon Snowden has received more than 113,000 signatures.