Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Snowden Ready to Come Home?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Snowden Ready to Come Home?

Article excerpt

It appears that, for the past two years, Edward Snowden has really just been waiting for the call to come home. Since 2013, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor has sought asylum in Russia, but in an interview with the BBC broadcast Monday, Mr. Snowden suggested that he's ready, and willing, to reach a deal with the US government.

In 2013, Snowden sparked a worldwide debate when he leaked thousands of documents detailing top secret US government mass surveillance programs. Charged with three felony accounts and violation of the US Espionage Act, Snowden would be tried without a jury and could face at least 30 years in jail or perhaps even a life sentence if he were to return to the United States without a deal, reported the Guardian.

"The Espionage Act finds anyone guilty who provides any information to the public, regardless of whether it is right or wrong," Snowden told The BBC in an interview, according to CNN. (The BBC broadcast is not available in the US.)

"You aren't even allowed to explain to a jury what your motivations were for revealing this information. It is simply a question of 'did you reveal information?' If yes, you go to prison for the rest of your life."

This, Snowden feels, is unfair and arguably the reason he hasn't been able to reach a deal with the US government for the past two years. "What I won't do is I won't serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations," he said.

At least 167,000 Americans think Snowden did do the right thing, though, as voiced by the petition they signed in July calling for Snowden to be pardoned, a request that was reinforced in a letter to editors at The New York Times last week.

"It is time that President Obama pardons Edward Snowden. What Mr. Snowden leaked, he leaked for the benefit of the American people," Barry Levine wrote. "To prosecute that as an act hostile to the American government is more an indictment of that government than the leaker."

Snowden's popularity could fuel the government's desire to strike a deal. "Further leverage is the embarrassment factor to the US from Snowden's receipt of prestigious awards and his general popularity, particularly among the young: since starting on Twitter a week ago, he has attracted 1. …

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