A prominent U.S. newspaper has taken a stance that Edward Snowden deserves clemency.

Snowden – a former NSA contractor who stole classified U.S. documents to blow the lid off indiscriminate NSA surveillance operations – should no longer live in exile in Russia, according to a Wednesday opinion piece by the editorial board of the New York Times.

The board wrote that although Snowden's actions are considered crimes, the United States should offer him a plea bargain so he could return to his home country and face lighter punishment.

“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,” the editorial said.