President Trump may be receiving a gift from Russian President Vladimir Putin and his name is Edward Snowden.
Snowden, after hearing the news, and in spite of the fact that he faces life imprisonment for espionage in the United States, tweeted out that the decision to send him back would be welcomed.
According to an interview on NBC News with a senior U.S. official having access to sensitive Russian intelligence, the potential return of Snowden is said to be an attempt by Vladimir Putin to gain favor with President Trump.
The U.S. Justice Department has wanted Snowden returned and President Trump has repeatedly called Snowden a traitor and spy who deserves to be executed.
However, Snowden intimates in a tweet that being sent back to the U.S. is evidence that he is not a spy:
This statement may come as a surprise to the many of us who know Snowden as the man who leaked thousands of pages of classified information in 2013 when he was a National Security Agency employee.
Trump and CIA Director Mike Pompeo have both condemned Snowden, with Trump saying, “I think he’s a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly.”
Trump tweeted in 2013 before he was a presidential candidate: “Snowden is a spy who should be executed.”
Pompeo also said last year: “I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”
The Trump administration has yet to comment on the report and there are some who feel the president should be careful in accepting Snowden.
Former deputy national security advisor, Juan Zarate, said:
“For Russia, this would be a win-win. They’ve already extracted what they needed from Edward Snowden, in terms of information, and they’ve certainly used him to beat the United States over the head in terms of its surveillance and cyber activity. It would signal warmer relations and some desire for greater cooperation with the new administration, but it would also no doubt stoke controversies and cases in the U.S. around the role of surveillance, the role of the U.S. intelligence community, and the future of privacy and civil liberties in an American context.”
In December, Snowden discussed the possibility of his being sent back to America in an interview which was live-streamed on Twitter:
“A lot of people have asked me: Is there going to be some kind of deal where Trump says, ‘Hey look, give this guy to me as some kind of present?’ Will I be sent back to the U.S., where I’ll be facing a show trial? Is this going to happen? I don’t know. Could it happen? Sure. Am I worried about it? Not really, because here’s the thing: I am very comfortable with the decisions that I’ve made. I know I did the right thing.”
Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden wants to return to the U.S. without the fear of arrest.
Kucherena said, “We hope very much that the new U.S. president would show some weighted approach to the issue and make the one and only correct decision — to stop prosecution against Edward Snowden.”
H/T: The Daily Mail
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