The United Nations human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, has come out in favor of Edward Snowden: Pillay argues that the former NSA contractor did a public service by pulling back the curtain on surveillance, and says he shouldn't be prosecuted by the United States.

"I see some of it here in the case of Snowden, because his revelations go to the core of what we are saying about the need for transparency, the need for consultation," Pillay said at a news conference, according to the Guardian. "We owe a great deal to him for revealing this kind of information."

"We owe a great deal to him for revealing this kind of information."

She declined to say if she thought President Barack Obama should pardon Snowden. "As a former judge I know that if he is facing judicial proceedings, we should wait for that outcome," she said.

Snowden is still effectively exiled in Russia, avoiding the US, which has vowed to prosecute him for espionage charges after he leaked classified NSA documents to the press. Recently, he applied for longer asylum in the country, and it's likely he'll be granted it.

Although members of the press and the public have argued that Snowden deserves clemency (with some dissenters arguing the opposite), the White House has given no indication that it will do so. In August of last year, Obama said Snowden should return to the US to face the charges.

The comments from Pillay, the UN's top human rights official, differ substantially from the opinion of Ban-ki Moon, the UN secretary general. "Access can be for the greater good, but sometimes it creates bigger problems through misuse by individuals," Ban reportedly said about Snowden.