Edward Snowden says he will return to US on one condition
Controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden, living in exile in Russia, said Monday he would like to return to the United States -- but only if he can get a fair jury trial.
“That is the ultimate goal, but if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison then my one, bottom-line demand that we all have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial,” Snowden said Monday on “CBS This Morning."
Snowden told CBS’ morning show that the U.S. government has “refused” to guarantee a fair trial.
“They won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” Snowden said.
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Co-host Tony Dokoupil said criminals don’t typically dictate terms of their trial.
“They broke the law and they face the consequences,” Dokoupil said. “What makes you different?”
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Snowden fired back: “I’m not different. Again, I’m not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pardon. I’m not asking for a pass. What I’m asking for is a fair trial.”
Snowden explained to the “CBS This Morning” panel that a jury would consider whether his actions were lawful or unlawful, as opposed to right or wrong.
The infamous whistleblower said that he didn’t want to reside in Russia but was trapped there when the United States canceled his passport while he was traveling to Latin America.
“I was just trying to continue on my journey into asylum,” he said.
Gayle King pointed out that the “optics are not good” that he’s in Russia, and Snowden agreed.
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“You’re absolutely right and I’m on the same side,” he said. “Of course it’s problematic and of course I would like to return to the United States.”
The ex-National Security Agency (NSA) contractor blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods in 2013. Moscow has resisted U.S. pressure to extradite Snowden, who faces charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
The Guardian in Britain published the first story based on Snowden's disclosures. It revealed that a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans. Later stories, including those in The Washington Post, disclosed other snooping and how U.S. and British spy agencies had tapped into information from cables carrying the world's phone and Internet traffic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.