Edward Snowden fled the US in 2013 after leaking classified documents to reporters. These documents revealed domestic surveillance by the NSA on United States citizens and ignited outrage and debate about security and surveillance. To escape arrest, Snowden left the country and resides in Russia, where he has been since 2013. Now he wants to come back home.
In an interview that aired Monday with the BBC, Snowden says that he has offered to go to jail in exchange for coming home, but has not received a response from the government. He stated, “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times”. He continues saying that “what I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.” This echoes a sentiment that he expressed in a Wired interview in 2014 where he said that he wouldn’t mind going to jail as long as his sentence “serves the right purpose.”
Snowden has been charged with 3 felonies in accordance to the Espionage act that carry a sentence of over 30 years. His lawyers have objected to Snowden returning to the US because they believe that a trial with charges under the espionage act would not be fair. “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. “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.”
There continues to be ongoing debate as to whether Snowden is a patriot or a traitor. Those who see his actions as an act of patriotism have called for President Obama to grant Snowden a full pardon. But, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow in 2013 he called Snowden a traitor and a coward. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that a plea deal could be possible that can met the request of both the government and Snowden.
In the meantime, Snowden continues to use his status to speak out about issues of security and surveillance.
Article via TechCrunch, 6 October 2015