Snowden deserves pardon

As people who deeply respect the rule of law but once felt it necessary to break the law to reveal serious government wrongdoing, we urge President Obama to pardon former National Security Agency private contractor Edward Snowden.

Three years ago, we stepped forward, after hiding in plain sight for 43 years, and revealed that we were members of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI - eight people who broke into the FBI office in Media in 1971. At that time, there was no official oversight of the FBI or of any intelligence agency. The files we stole and distributed anonymously to journalists revealed what FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had been doing secretly for decades: Massive illegal spying and dirty-tricks operations against American dissidents.

These revelations helped lead to the establishment of intelligence oversight committees in both houses of Congress.

In June 2013, based on NSA files Snowden had given to journalists, Americans learned that the NSA since 9/11 had exponentially increased its technological capacity to collect records of nearly every form of electronic communication engaged in by Americans and by foreign citizens. The files confirmed that Congress essentially rubberstamped whatever the agencies wanted.

We were lucky; the FBI was not able to find us. Snowden is less lucky. It would be impossible for him to mount a public-interest defense. President-elect Donald Trump has called him a traitor and implied he should be executed.

Obama, in his farewell address, said that "citizen" is the most important position in this country. We agree, as does Snowden. He risked his freedom for his fellow citizens. That's why Obama should pardon him.

|John and Bonnie Raines, Philadelphia