Little support for Snowden amnesty

January 02, 2014, 5:19 PM GMT+0

Only a quarter of Americans support amnesty for Edward Snowden if he cooperates with the government, though approval of his decision to leak secret information is at a new high.

The New York Times today published an editorial calling on the US government to show clemency towards Edward Snowden. In the editorial the New York Times said that Edward Snowden has done the country "a great service" and should not face a "life of permanent exile, fear and flight". Some within the NSA have also proposed amnesty for Edward Snowden, if he cooperated with the government and did not release any further information. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia after he fled the United States and exposed a range of spying practices, including NSA monitoring of US phone calls.

The latest research from YouGov, however, shows that few Americans support amnesty for Edward Snowden. Only 25% support a deal which would see Snowden avoid prosecution in return for not releasing any further documents and cooperating with the government. 27% neither support nor oppose this, however, with only 30% being outright opposed to a possible amnesty deal.

Most Americans (56%) say that the NSA's collection of Americans' phone records is an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Americans. 28% say that it is justified as part of efforts to combat terrorism.

Support for the NSA's collection of telephone call data is highest among Democrats, 42% of whom support it, though even among Democrats more people (46%) tend to oppose rather than support the program. Most Republicans (63%) also opposed it, while Independents are particularly hostile to the data collection program, with 76% opposing it and only 25% supporting it.

Support for his decision to leak information on the NSA's activities is at its highest level, with 41% of Americans approving of the leaks. 47% of Americans disapprove of the leaks, however, though this is down from 50% in October 2013. At the time this question was asked in October, the impact of Snowden's leaks on American foreign relations was a significant news story, after it was revealed that the US had spied on the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cell phone.

The question of whether or not people approve of the Snowden leak does show some partisan division, though unusually Democrats and Republicans are close together as both tend to disapprove of the leaks while Independents lean towards approving of them. Most Democrats (55%) disapprove, along with nearly half of Republicans (49%). Only 40% of Independents disapprove, while 46% approve of the leaks.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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