Snowden return to US hinges on amnesty, his legal adviser says

Former NSA contractor is open to negotiations about returning to the US with guarantees he won't face prosecution, his adviser tells "Meet The Press."

Edward Snowden

Any negotiations with Edward Snowden regarding his return to the US would require guarantees of amnesty, his legal adviser said Sunday.

Jesselyn Radack told NBC's "Meet The Press" that the former NSA contractor would be willing to enter negotiations with Attorney General Eric Holder about returning to the US but would need assurances that he would not face prosecution for leaking confidential documents detailing the NSA's surveillance programs. Holder said Thursday that the US would be open to negotiations but that granting amnesty "would be going too far."

"It's a little disheartening that he [Holder] seemed to take clemency and amnesty off the table, which are two of the negotiating points," Radack said during an interview (see below). "But again, none of us have been contacted yet about restarting negotiations."

Radack, who is the director of national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, said Snowden has been "punished quite a bit already" by the US revocation of his passport.

"He's endured having to basically give up his entire life and rendered stateless by the United States government," Radack said in an interview from Russia.

Snowden, who is currently living in Russia, was charged with espionage after reportedly stealing 1.7 million classified documents from US government computers. However, Snowden's yearlong temporary asylum is expected come to an end this year. If he isn't given immunity by the US, it's unclear where he will end up.

While the topic of a pardon for Snowden is still highly contentious, some US officials have shown signs of softening the government's stance toward the former NSA contractor. Rick Ledgett, who runs a NSA task force assessing the damage on the Snowden leaks, has said he might agree to an immunity deal if Snowden returned the stolen documents.

In recent months, support for Snowden has grown, with many, including the New York Times editorial board, calling for the whistleblower to be offered immunity. A Pew Research Center poll found that 56 percent of those polled want "to see the government pursue a criminal case against Snowden, while 32 percent oppose this." (It also found that 53 percent disapproved of "the government's collection of telephone and Internet data as part of antiterrorism efforts" and that 40 percent approved -- and a separate Pew poll found that younger Americans tend to be more supportive of Snowden.)

(Via Reuters)

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