Former National Security Agency contractor and current prominent whistle-blower Edward Snowden talked to the BBC in a program scheduled to air tonight. Among the topics discussed: Will Snowden ever get to leave Russia?
Snowden told the BBC, according to a report from The Guardian, that he’s waiting to hear back from the Justice Department about a plea deal. He can’t really try to come back to the U.S. without one; thanks to the Espionage Act, he could face 30 years in prison. Not that Snowden is being idealistic about his options. “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,” he reportedly told the BBC. “What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.”
“So far they’ve said they won’t torture me which is a start, I think,” Snowden said, according to the AP. “But we haven’t gotten much further than that.”
This isn’t the first time Snowden, who started a Twitter account last week that already has more than a million followers, has talked about wanting to come home. His Russian attorney told reporters in March, “He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen.”
A petition calling for Snowden to be pardoned was rejected by the Obama administration this summer. Lisa Monaco, the president’s Homeland Security adviser, told petitioners that Snowden should “come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers – not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime.”
Back in July, former attorney general Eric Holder told Yahoo News “the possibility exists” that the legal fight between the federal government and Snowden could end with a plea deal. However, Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s spokesperson told Yahoo, “This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed.”
Michael Hayden, who led the NSA during the Bush administration, gave a hint of what might happen to Snowden if his case remains unresolved and a Republican administration is elected next year. “If you’re asking me my opinion, he’s going to die in Moscow,” he told the BBC. “He’s not coming home.”