Whistleblower Edward Snowden has offered to do time in prison to be able to return to the United States as part of a plea deal, but the U.S. Justice Department has made no effort to contact him, Snowden said Monday in an interview with BBC's "Panorama," the Guardian reported. Snowden is currently in exile in Russia.
Snowden said he'd “volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," but that he and his lawyers were still waiting for U.S. officials to respond to their offer. “So far they’ve said they won’t torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven’t gotten much further than that," Snowden said, the Associated Press reported.
Snowden’s comments came just months after former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Snowden’s revelations “spurred a necessary debate” and that, in regard to a plea bargain, “I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists.”
Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, has been in asylum in Russia since 2013. He is wanted under the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking tens of thousands of confidential documents. If Snowden were to return to the U.S. without a plea deal, he would likely be tried under the act. He would not receive a jury trial and could face 30 years to life in prison. Many senior security figures want him to serve a lengthy sentence -- both as a punishment for his alleged actions and as a deterrent to others.
“If you’re asking me my opinion, he’s going to die in Moscow. He’s not coming home,” former NSA Director Michael Hayden told "Panorama," the Guardian reported. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch also said that the U.S. has not altered its position, the Atlantic reported, and Mark Giuliano, FBI deputy director, told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.
Can you hear me now?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
“The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?” Snowden said, the Associated Press reported. “I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally. ... I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made. If I’m gone tomorrow, I’m happy with what I had. I feel blessed.”
As disliked as he might be by senior security figures, Snowden has still received prestigious awards and recently garnered more than 1 million Twitter followers after joining the microblogging site last week. His biography reads, “I used to work for the government. Now I work for the people.”
Snowden is only following one Twitter account: that of the NSA.