Snowden should 'be judged by a jury of his peers': White House
The White House rejected a call on Tuesday to pardon Edward Snowden, saying that the former intelligence contractor should "be judged by a jury of his peers" for leaking US government secrets.
The US administration re-iterated its tough stance against the exiled former-NSA contractor, whom supporters regard as a whistleblower, in response to a petition on the White House website which has been signed by more than 167,000 people.
Lisa Monaco, an advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, said that Snowden's "dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it."
She said that Snowden, who had been granted asylum in Russia after he leaked documents on vast US surveillance programs to journalists, is "running away from the consequences of his actions."
"If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and -- importantly -- accept the consequences of his actions," she wrote.
"He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers -- not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime."
The US administration has branded Snowden a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the National Security Agency spying programs.
But his revelation that the NSA siphons vast quantities of telephone data from private US citizens has struck a cord and Congress has begun to amend once secret laws.
Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second year in a row and has received a string of international awards for free speech and civil liberties.
The petition took up this call.
"Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs," it said.
Earlier this year, Congress passed a law which ordered the NSA to end bulk data collection. The administration said on Monday that the NSA will stop accessing the records by November 29, and would destroy them as soon as possible.
Sri Lanka has allowed permission to the Chinese built-Pakistani guided missile frigate PNS Taimur to make a port call at Colombo while on its way to join the Pakistan Navy in Karachi.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for international inspectors to be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the shelling of Europe's largest atomic plant at the weekend. "Any attack (on) a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," Guterres told a news conference in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on Saturday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.
After the White House gave initial approval and then settled the final details with senators, that became the version that was shepherded into law. The president next tried to strike a deal on a social spending and climate package with Sen. Joe Manchin, going as far as inviting the West Virginia lawmaker to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, until the conservative Democrat abruptly pulled the plug on the talks in a Fox News interview.
Air traffic around Taiwan is gradually returning to normal after airspace surrounding the island reopened, Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications said on Monday, although China later announced fresh military drills in the area. China last week deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles near during military exercises sparked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
Ukrainian forces again shelled the Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, damaging construction equipment and delaying its reopening, Interfax news agency quoted a local Russian-appointed official as saying on Monday. The bridge is one of only two crossing points for Russian forces to territory they have occupied on the western bank of the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine in what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in the country.