Socrates was executed in 399BC for breaking Athenian law. He had a chance to go into exile, but chose death out of respect for the sanctity of Law – even if particular laws or their implementation had been found wanting.
Henry David Thoreau, following in the footsteps of Socrates, challenged what he regarded as an unjust law by refusing to pay taxes earmarked for a war. Yet, he still submitted himself to the consequences of his civil disobedience and spent his night in jail.
Thoreau resisted the particular unjust law, but submitted himself for punishment for the sake of Law itself. The integrity of Law itself must be maintained, he held, though he remains free to resist and challenge particular unjust laws.
Edward Snowden may be in a similar circumstance as Socrates and Thoreau.