Former NSA contractor and CIA employee, Edward Snowden, wants to return home to the United States after seeking refuge in Moscow, Russia as a national fugitive, as stated on Tuesday by his Russian attorney, Anatoly Kucherena. Kucherena has indicated that although Snowden would like to return, he only will if certain conditions are honored by the American government.
Kucherena has stated that Snowden is willing to face consequences from the U.S. government, but only if he is not tried under the World War I-era Espionage Act, which could result in him being sentenced up to 30 years in prison, and “that he be given guarantees to a fair and impartial trial,” he said. Snowden is currently backed by an American and German team of attorneys working in negotiations on his behalf. U.S. officials in Washington promised that he would be welcomed into the country and that he would not be sentenced to the death penalty under the Espionage Act, but reasserted that he would still have to face federal charges filed against him. U.S. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi states that it’s their position that Snowden should return to the United States and face the charges filed against him assuring that he will be tried with full due process and protections if he does so.
Snowden, 31, came to be recognized by the state as a national fugitive after leaking top-secret documents to mainstream media outlets regarding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and fleeing the United States to seek refuge in Hong Kong in May of 2013. In an attempt to escape to Cuba, he came to be stranded in Moscow where Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him asylum and a three-year Russian residence permit which made already tense relations with the U.S. government even more tense. Since then, Snowden has remained in Moscow residing with his American girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.
While some Americans are avid supporters of his actions acknowledging him as a whistleblower and heroic model for true American freedom in times whereas many may feel that their civil liberties are constantly infringed upon by the U.S. government, others are staunch critics that consider him a national traitor that single-handedly put the national security of the entire country at serious risk. Snowden said in an interview with NBC News in 2014, “I mean, I’ve from day one said that I’m doing this to serve my country. Now, whether amnesty or clemency becomes a possibility is not for me to say.” He expressed wishes to not be shown walking into a jail cell to serve as a bad example.
Snowden’s attorney spoke at a news conference while presenting a book titled Time of the Octopus he has written highlighting the destiny of his client. “I won’t keep it secret that he… wants to return back home. And we are doing everything possible now to solve this issue. There is a group of U.S. lawyers, there is also a group of German lawyers and I’m dealing with it on the Russian side.”
Since residing in Moscow, Snowden has expressed previously that he wants to return to the United States, but the American government regarding him as a national fugitive rather than a whistleblower has prevented him from doing so.
Written by De Gregory