LONDON: Whistleblower Edward Snowden believes that US President Barack Obama should pardon him before he leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure by WikiLeaks of the scale of surveillance by the US and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off.
In an interview to The Guardian via video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited.
"Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things," Snowden said.
"I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the President all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures," he added.
"At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result," he told The Guardian.
Snowden's came as supporters, including his US lawyer, stepped up a campaign for a presidential pardon. Snowden is wanted in the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act and faces at least 30 years in jail.
Obama's former attorney-general Eric Holder, however, gave an unexpected boost to the campaign for Sonwden's pardon in May when he said Snowden had performed a public service.
The campaign could receive a further lift from Oliver Stone's film, Snowden, scheduled for release in the US on Friday.
Snowden was confident that he will end up back in the US.
"Once the officials, who felt like they had to protect the programs, their positions, their careers, have left government and we start looking at things from a more historical perspective, it will be pretty clear that this war on whistleblowers does not serve the interests of the US, rather it harms them."