WASHINGTON - The New York Times and Guardian newspapers called Thursday for US leaker Edward Snowden to be granted clemency for his revelations on US government spying.
The two dailies in separate editorials hailed the fugitive computer specialist, who has sought refuge in Russia after leaking reams of information about the secretive US National Security Agency and its data gathering techniques.
"He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service," the Times wrote.
"It is time for the United States to offer Mr Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency."
Britain's Guardian newspaper meanwhile urged Washington "to allow Mr Snowden to return to the US with dignity," calling his revelations exposing the extent of Washington's electronic eavesdropping at home and abroad an act of "moral courage."
The Times called on the US government to offer Snowden a deal that "would allow him to return home (and) face at least substantially reduced punishment."
The National Security Council, President Barack Obama's in-house forum at the White House for national security and foreign affairs, on Thursday declined to comment, referring AFP to previous White House statements.
Obama has said he welcomes debate about the NSA's role as he weighs possible changes to its broad powers, but has refused to discuss the possibility of amnesty or a presidential pardon for Snowden.
In mid-December, the White House renewed its demand for the fugitive leaker to return home to face trial.
"Our position has not changed on that matter at all," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"Mr Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges here in the United States."