Edward Snowden

Snowden Is Talking About Coming Back to U.S., Says Russian Lawyer

President Obama: You can still do the right thing.


Snowden Obama

Reuters is reporting that the lawyers for domestic surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden are in talks about arranging for him to come home from his exile in Russia:

A Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden said on Tuesday the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of the government's mass surveillance programs was working with American and German lawyers to return home.

Anatoly Kucherena, who has links to the Kremlin, was speaking at a news conference to present a book he has written about his client. Moscow granted Snowden asylum in 2013, straining already tense ties with Washington.

"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."…

Snowden has said in the past he would like to return home if he was assured he would be given a fair trial.

Back in November 2013, I argued that President Obama should offer Snowden clemency by giving him a pardon. As I noted:

"The irony is obvious," journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in June, "The same people who are building a ubiquitous surveillance system to spy on everyone in the world, including their own citizens, are now accusing the person who exposed it of 'espionage.'" The heads of the agencies that ordered and oversaw a vast program of illegal domestic warrantless wiretapping during the Bush administration were given a blanket pardon for their activities in 2008. Then-Sen. Obama voted in favor of this retroactive immunity….

[W]hat would happen if Snowden were to "face justice" in 21st century America? In a July Washington Post op-ed, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg noted that when he was arrested for unauthorized disclosures, he was released on his own recognizance the same day. In modern America, Ellsberg believes, Snowden would not be so fortunate. "There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now," Ellsberg wrote. Instead Snowden would be held "incommunicado" and "almost certainly be confined in total isolation."…

As Snowden correctly concludes, "Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime." If we succeed in halting the march toward the "turnkey totalitarian state" that former NSA executive William Binney warned about last year, it will be in large measure because of Snowden's revelations. Mr. President, pardon Edward Snowden now. We'll give him medals later.

Mr. President: You can still do the right thing.