A majority of the British public think Edward Snowden did the right thing in leaking classified documents on US intelligence gathering to the press, and most think he should not even be prosecuted
Last Monday The Guardian released the name of the person behind “the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history”. The leaker was reported to be American Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee and current IT contractor who said of his decision to reveal his identity: “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong”. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, meanwhile, has called Snowden a ‘traitor’.
A new YouGov poll for the Sunday Times reveals most of the British public is on Snowden’s side: 56% say he was right to give information on how the US government was monitoring telephone calls and emails to the press. Only 27% say Snowden was in the wrong.
Support among British adults for Snowden’s case goes beyond the belief that he was morally justified in leaking the information, however. Britons also believe by a majority of 52% that he should not even be prosecuted, compared to 28% who think he should.
Though he also believes he was right to release the documents, Snowden fled to Hong Kong before the story broke, leaving behind “a very comfortable life” with a job with a $200,000 salary and a girlfriend at a shared home in Hawaii. He said he was “willing to sacrifice all of that” because he could not “in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties”.
On Friday the British government reportedly issued a warning to airports worldwide not to allow Snowden to fly to the UK.