The New York Times editorialized Thursday that the U.S. government should allow admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a way to return home since he fled the country last summer:

Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community. …

In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not. …

When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.

After leaking large loads of information about U.S. spying techniques, Snowden escaped to China, then sought and received asylum in Russia.