Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden wants to come back home to the United States, but U.S. officials said the fugitive whistleblower would have to stand trial for leaking details about the NSA’s secret mass surveillance programs, Reuters reported.
“I won’t keep it secret that he … wants to return back home. And we are doing everything possible now to resolve this issue,” Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena, who reportedly has ties to the Moscow Kremlin, told Reuters Tuesday. “There is a group of U.S. lawyers, there is also a group of German lawyers, and I’m dealing with it on the Russian side.”
Moscow granted Snowden asylum in 2013, followed by a three-year Russian residence permit in August. Snowden's exact locations have not been made public. The former NSA systems analyst reportedly moves freely but is accompanied by guards. “He goes shopping, he visits museums and theaters under escort,” Kucherena told the Associated Press.
Snowden said last month the only thing he regrets about revealing the NSA’s spying programs was that he didn’t do it sooner. “Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have been a little less entrenched, and those abusing them would have felt a little less familiar with and accustomed to the exercise of those powers,” he said during a question-and-answer session on Reddit. “Don't let it happen in your country.”
Some -- including Kucherena -- have praised Snowden for heroicly defying the U.S. government, while Snowden's critics have condemned him as a traitor who compromised U.S. security.
Snowden faces criminal charges filed against him in the United States for allegedly leaking classified information, which has “inflicted serious harms on our national security,” U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters. Snowden expressed a desire to return home in the past, if he was assured a fair trial.
“It remains our position that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face the charges filed against him. If he does, he will be accorded full due process and protections,” Raimondi reportedly said Tuesday.