Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden has been hiding out in Russia over the last few years but he’s willing to return to U.S. soil on one condition. The former National Security Agency contractor says he’d come back to the U.S. on the guarantee that he would receive a fair trial.
"I’ve told the government I would return if they would guarantee a fair trial where I can make a public interest defense of why this was done and allow a jury to decide," Snowden told a libertarian conference, the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, according to the Guardian.
Snowden faces 30 years in prison under the Espionage Act for leaking thousands of classified documents from the NSA which revealed mass surveillance programs involving intercepted phone calls and internet traffic. Snowden quit his job in 2013 and flew to Hong Kong, where he released the sensitive information. A month later, Russia granted him asylum and he has remained there ever since.
He previously spoke out about reaching out to the U.S. government to discuss a plea deal but says that offer fell on deaf ears. It’s unknown whether or not his latest plea will receive a response.
While many would see him hanged as a traitor, Snowden has found support in people like Rand Paul who says he did the country a service. "I have mixed feelings. People are always saying hero or villain. We would not know about what our government has done and how our government lied to us without Edward Snowden. So he is a whistleblower and he did inform us of something the government was doing illegal,” the politician said.