A Reuters poll released Wednesday reveals more Americans look upon Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who leaked information about the National Security Administration’s PRISM Internet spying program to a British newspaper, as a patriot who did the right thing than as a traitor who deserves arrest.
The online survey asked 645 Americans three questions, with two pertaining to Snowden’s actions. One asked whether Snowden is a traitor or a patriot; the other whether he deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for leaking classified information he believed endangers Americans’ freedoms. A third question sought Americans’ opinion about the PRISM program itself.
According to the poll, 31 percent of Americans say Snowden’s a patriot, with 35 percent feeling he doesn’t deserve to be prosecuted for sharing information about PRISM and other government surveillance dragnets with The Guardian. Only 23 percent said he’s a traitor, with 25 percent saying he should be prosecuted. Another 46 percent reserved judgment on the matter of whether he’s a traitor, with 40 percent saying they didn’t know whether prosecution is in order.
When it comes to PRISM, 37 percent said it’s completely unacceptable to indiscriminately and secretly spy on Americans’ online activities by tapping in to major Internet service providers’ servers without probable cause. Another 45 percent said such surveillance is warranted under certain circumstances. But only 6 percent said they didn’t object to the program at all.