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Ron Paul launches petition to grant Edward Snowden clemency

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Hot on the heels of his son filing a class action lawsuit against the White House, former Congress member and perennial presidential candidate Ron Paul has started a petition to get clemency for Edward Snowden. Snowden's one-year period of asylum in Russia expires on July 31st, and Paul asks readers to help "bring Edward home." Last year, federal prosecutors charged Snowden with theft and espionage, and Obama has equivocated on whether he is considering a pardon. Attorney General Eric Holder has been blunter, saying he would be open to a plea deal, but only if Snowden returns to the US and pleads guilty. Intelligence officials, meanwhile, have called for the return of the remaining leaked documents.

"On June 5th, 2013, Edward Snowden sacrificed his livelihood, citizenship, and freedom by exposing the disturbing scope of the NSA's worldwide spying program," Paul says in a video. "By signing this petition, you are telling the US government that Mr. Snowden deserves the right to come home without the fear of persecution or imprisonment." Ron and his son Rand Paul (R-KY) are both critics of Obama's surveillance program, but Rand has not come out in favor of outright clemency. Instead, he has called for lighter sentencing. "I don't think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison," he said in early January, urging the US government to offer "a fair trial with a reasonable sentence."