A statement has come up from Edwards Snowden that he’s willing to go to prison in order to return to the United States.
Edward Snowden is the former US government contractor who have 2 years ago leaked the documents regarding the National Security Agency Surveillance programs and fled to Russia.
Snowden said, “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times. What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations,” that aired on BBC this Monday.
He also said that he is waiting for the Department of Justice officials to respond to his offer. When asked whether his lawyers were in active negotiations with the government Snowden said, “We’re still waiting for them to call us back.”
His comments to the BBC about prison mirror what Snowden told Wired in 2014: “I told the government I’d volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose,” Snowden said then. “I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can’t allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal.”
Snowden faces multiple felony charges in the US that could come with three decades in prison.
Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer representing Snowden said that Snowden’s BBC comments don’t represent a change of position for his clients. “He’s said from the beginning that he does not intend to plead guilty to felonies as a result of his act of conscience.”
Eric Holder, the former attorney general said in July that the “possibility exists” the Justice Department would agree to a plea bargain from Snowden. He then added, “I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with.”
Robert Litt, the chief counsel to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has floated a specific plea deal that included one felony count and three to five years of jail time, citing three anonymous officials.
So here is the conflict: Snowden’s legal team doesn’t want a plea deal that includes agreeing to a felony count.
Snowden’s lawyers have long argued that their client would not be able to have a fair trial in the US because he face charges under a WWW-I espionage law that doesn’t allow for a public interest defense.
“The Espionage Act finds anyone guilty who provides any information to the public, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. You aren’t even allowed to explain to a jury what your motivations were for revealing this information. It is simply a question of, ‘Did you reveal information?’ If yes, you go to prison for the rest of your life,” said Snowden, repeating the same argument to the BBC.
Despite his exile to Russia, Snowden has maintained a high profile since coming forward as the source of revelations about government spying- taking to panels via livestream, giving interviews and by recently joining Twitter.