U.S. Senator Paul wants light punishment of Snowden for NSA leaks

WASHINGTON Sun Jan 5, 2014 11:05pm IST

The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, during a demonstration in Berlin November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, during a demonstration in Berlin November 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The public debate over the fate of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden intensified on Sunday with conservative U.S. Senator Rand Paul calling for a light prison term as punishment for Snowden's disclosure of information on government surveillance programs.

Paul, a Republican, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that Snowden does not deserve the death penalty or life in prison for the leaks, which have rattled the U.S. intelligence community, not to mention an American public that had been unaware of the extent of NSA data collection.

Instead, Paul spoke favorably of "some penalty of a few years in prison" if Snowden were to return to the United States from Russia, where he currently is living, to face trial.

Paul, a freshman senator from Kentucky and a Tea Party favorite who has his eye on running for president in 2016, made his remarks a few days after a New York Times editorial said Snowden had done the United States "a great service" in divulging details of NSA surveillance.

The newspaper said the U.S. government should offer Snowden "a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home."

Senator Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, also on ABC, said Snowden should return to stand trial but that the United States should not offer a plea bargain to him.

Schumer said a trial could help clarify several issues, including whether the vast amounts of data being collected by the NSA actually help the United States root out terrorists and how much damage Snowden's leaks have done to American intelligence agents.

Last month, a federal judge criticized the NSA's metadata counter-terrorism program, saying that he could not imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion."

The Obama administration on Friday appealed that court's ruling: that the NSA's gathering of Americans' telephone records was probably unconstitutional.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Bill Trott and Steve Orlofsky)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Deal Talk

Reuters Showcase

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo ekes out Q3 revenue gain despite display ad weakness.  Full Article 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack

China-backed hackers may have infiltrated Apple's iCloud - blog.  Full Article 

Shopping Plans

Shopping Plans

Yahoo in talks to buy ad service BrightRoll - TechCrunch.  Full Article 

Data Breach

Data Breach

Staples says investigating possible payment card data breach.  Full Article 

Eavesdropping Agency

Eavesdropping Agency

Outgoing UK spy chief rejects mass surveillance claims.  Full Article 

Tech Deal

Tech Deal

Apple, supplier GT strike deal to unseal info, shutter Arizona plant.  Full Article 

Fat Paycheck

Fat Paycheck

New Microsoft CEO Nadella's pay tops $80 mln with big stock awards.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage