Fewer British people now believe Edward Snowden was right to leak information to the press than when he first emerged in June – although nearly half (48%) still side with him
Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett has today called for a “high-level review or a commission” to address ‘misuses’ of surveillance laws by government intelligence agencies, exposed by ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden in June.
The belief amongst British adults that Snowden was right to leak confidential documents to the press about how the United States government was monitoring telephone calls and emails has dropped, however.
48% now believe Snowden was right, compared to 56% in June 13-14, a week after the Guardian newspaper published its first exclusive on the leaks. In contrast, 32% now think he was wrong, compared to 27% in June.
Notably, the June survey was taken just days after Snowden revealed he was the leaker and before many of his revelations were made public, including many related to surveillance by British spying agencies.
Opinion on Snowden's actions has particularly hardened among Conservative voters, who in June tended to believe that what Snowden had done was right (by 44% to 40% wrong), but a majority (53%) of whom now believe it was wrong.
Belief that what Snowden did was right has also dropped by five points among Labour and Lib Dem voters and by 17 points among UKIP voters.
From June 10-11 to August 27-28, positive opinion of Snowden dropped from 38% to 35% while negative opinion rose significantly from 25% to 34%. Since August, however, opinion is virtually unchanged, with positive-to-negative opinion split 36%-34%.
Following the leaks to the Guardian in June Snowden fled to Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum. On Sunday US officials rejected clemency – or lenience – with White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer claiming “Mr Snowden violated US law. He should return to the US and face justice.”