Washington Post calls for prosecution of Snowden -- despite publishing NSA documents he leaked
NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden talks as he participates via video link from Russia (above) to a parliamentary hearing at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France on June 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

The editorial board of the Washington Post has called for Edward Snowden to return the U.S. to face prosecution despite being one of the papers of record to publish what he took from the NSA.

As President Barack Obama's final term in office winds to a close, there has been a movement to get the outgoing president to pardon Snowden before he leaves office.

Under the heading "No pardon for Edward Snowden," the board wrote, "Mr. Snowden’s defenders don’t deny that he broke the law — not to mention oaths and contractual obligations — when he copied and kept 1.5 million classified documents. They argue, rather, that Mr. Snowden’s noble purposes, and the policy changes his 'whistle-blowing' prompted, justified his actions."

The board then mentioned their own involvement in the leak.

"Specifically, he made the documents public through journalists, including reporters working for The Post, enabling the American public to learn for the first time that the NSA was collecting domestic telephone 'metadata' — information about the time of a call and the parties to it, but not its content — en masse with no case-by-case court approval."

"The complication is that Mr. Snowden did more than that. He also pilfered, and leaked, information about a separate overseas NSA Internet-monitoring program, PRISM, that was both clearly legal and not clearly threatening to privacy.... Worse — far worse — he also leaked details of basically defensible international intelligence operations"

Noting that Snowden has so far stated that he won't return to the U.S. for a trial, saying he wouldn't be able to receive a fair one, the Post's board offered a solution by way of a compromise by both parties.

"The second-best solution might be a bargain in which Mr. Snowden accepts a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency in recognition of his contributions. Neither party seems interested in that for now. An outright pardon, meanwhile, would strike the wrong balance."