WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The NSA contractor who revealed secret anti-terrorism programs is seeking political asylum in Iceland. Edward Snowden claims he's a whistleblower and doesn't deserve to be punished; but government leaders say in his attempt to do good, he's done far more damage.
An American hero? Or a traitor? Edward Snowden believed he was protecting the public when he revealed government programs that track phone records and internet messages.
"I mean we have a right to know. You're on your cell phone and somebody is listening to your conversations and stuff like that? It bothers me you know. There's no sense of privacy," said David Demers of West Springfield.
But national leaders say rather than protecting people, Snowden put every American's safety at risk. They now fear very sensitive information could fall into the wrong hands.
"I don't think he's a patriot, that's for sure. They're trying to get the terrorists before they get us. That's all. If they're telling the truth, they're not really invading everyone's privacy and they're just looking for certain letters or certain numbers or words and they go in and check it out," said Orville Gordon of West Springfield.
In a new Pew Research Center poll, 56 percent of Americans said they were okay with the National Security Agency targeting terrorism by tracking calls.
"If it was just a situation where there's known terrorists and they have a phone number and they're just looking for people who call those numbers I can live with that," said James Casavant of South Hadley.
But as government leaders search for Snowden in hiding-- before he reveals even more-- thousands of Americans have signed a White House petition to pardon him.