Edward Snowden Ready to Go to US If He Gets A Fair and Impartial Trial
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Ever since Snowden revealed himself to the public 20 months ago, he has repeatedly said the same exact thing when asked about his returning to the U.S.: "I would love to come home, and would do so if I could get a fair trial, but right now, I can't."
His primary rationale for this argument has long been that under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute under which he has been charged, he would be barred by U.S. courts from even raising his key defense: that the information he revealed to journalists should never have been concealed in the first place and he was thus justified in disclosing it to journalists. In other words, when U.S. political and media figures say Snowden should "man up," come home and argue to a court that he did nothing wrong, they are deceiving the public, since they have made certain that whistleblowers charged with "espionage" are legally barred from even raising that defense.
Snowden has also pointed out that legal protections for whistleblowers are explicitly inapplicable to those, like him, who are employed by private contractors (rendering President Obama's argument about why Snowden should "come home" entirely false). One month after Snowden was revealed, Daniel Ellsberg wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post arguing that Snowden did the right thing in leaving the U.S. because he would not be treated fairly, and argued Snowden should not return until he is guaranteed a fully fair trial.
Snowden has said all of this over and over. In June 2013, when I asked him during the online Guardian chat why he left the U.S. for Hong Kong, he said: "the US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home ... That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it."
In January 2014, AP reported about a new online chat Snowden gave: "Snowden said returning would be the best resolution. But Snowden said he can't return because he wouldn't be allowed to argue at trial that he acted in the public interest when he revealed the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs." In that chat, he said: "Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself."
In his May 2014 interview with NBC News' Brian Williams, Snowden said: "I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home." That led to headlines like this one from CBS News -- on May 29, 2014, more than nine months ago:
For many months, it has also been repeatedly reported there have been negotiations between the DOJ and Snowden's lawyers for the terms of his return, though those negotiations have gone nowhere. In April 2014, the New York Times reported that Snowden "retained a well known Washington defense lawyer last summer in hopes of reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would allow him to return to the United States and spare him significant prison time." In June 2014, Bill Gertz reported that "Federal prosecutors recently held discussions with representatives of renegade National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden on a possible deal involving his return to the United States."Go to The Intercept to read the rest of this article.