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White House Rejects Calls To Pardon Snowden For Leaking State Secrets

The White House has rejected a call by the director of a new film on former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden for President Barack Obama to pardon him for leaking state secrets.

Despite Snowden's lionization in a film by director Oliver Stone, Obama continues to believe that Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia, should return to the United States to face charges for leaking classified information, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on September 12.

Stone's film will appear in theaters on September 16. It portrays Snowden as more of a patriot than a traitor for exposing the National Security Agency's extensive, unauthorized surveillance program.

"Obama could pardon him, and we hope so," Stone said on September 10.

"He would like to come home," said actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who portrays Snowden in the film and visited with him in Russia. "He really was doing what he did out of a sincere love for his country."

But Earnest said Snowden's leaks "damaged the United States" and put Americans at risk.

Earnest said Snowden will be "treated fairly" if he returns to the United States, where he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP