Edward Snowden may be heading back to the United States as a pawn in a political chess game between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. According to NBC News, U.S. intelligence officials have gathered evidence to suggest that Russia is considering offering Snowden up as a “gift” to the newest president of the United States.
Edward Snowden’s attorney Ben Wizner denied having any knowledge of the alleged Russian deal that many think is Putin’s attempt to gain favor with Trump. “Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern,” Wizner told NBC News.
Snowden immediately took to Twitter to use the news story as means of declaring his innocence amid allegations that Edward has been sharing top secret information with Russian officials.
Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel. No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they’re next. https://t.co/YONqZ1gYqm
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 10, 2017
Unfortunately for Edward Snowden, others don’t see the purported offering as evidence that Snowden didn’t squeal but rather that Russia has simply extracted all the information they need from him and are offering him up in an effort to thaw relations with the current United States administration.
Snowden’s involvement in leaking top secret NSA information has had him in exile since 2013. Edward fled to Russia from China shortly after the United States filed espionage charges against him where Snowden was granted asylum. He has since been looking for other countries to take him in.
While some view Snowden as a traitor, others see him as a whistleblower and hero regarding his challenging of the government’s questionable use in retrieving personal information from its citizens.
Edward Snowden made headlines more recently just prior to President Barrack Obama’s stepping down from office as many felt Obama was Snowden’s best chance at being pardoned for his transgressions. While Snowden made the pardon request for himself to President Obama, according to the Washington Times, Edward made it clear that if Obama could only free one person, it should be convicted former soldier Chelsea Manning who was granted freedom instead of him.
“Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning. You alone can save her life,” Snowden tweeted.
Chelsea Manning, who was accused of providing classified information to Wikileaks, had her sentence commuted by President Obama on January 17. She is scheduled for release from prison on May 17, 2017.
Snowden remarked in previous interviews that he had been willing to strike a plea deal and even serve jail time but that the U.S. Department of Justice had not reached out to him in an effort to settle the matter.
Last November Snowden encouraged Americans to have no fear regarding Donald Trump’s presidential win because citizens can inflict change. Perhaps, however, Edward wasn’t familiar with Trump’s reflections on Snowden’s transgressions.
In 2013, during an interview with Fox and Friends, Donald Trump seemed to think Edward Snowden’s offenses were worthy of execution.
“This guy (Edward Snowden) is a bad guy, and you know, there is still a thing called execution. You have to take a strong hand. You have thousands of people with access to kinds of material like this. We’re not going to have a country any longer,” Trump stated when expressing his frustrations with the Obama administration failing to stop Snowden from fleeing the country.
According to an article in The Guardian in February of 2016, Edward Snowden had said he would be willing to return to the United States if he felt he could get a fair trial. Snowden made the disclosure via satellite while talking to the New Hampshire Liberty Forum.
“I’ve told the government I would return if they would guarantee a fair trial where I can make a public interest defence of why this was done and allow a jury to decide,” Snowden said.
Considering present politics, however, Edward Snowden may not have the ability to dictate the terms of his return to the United States.
Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? Is Russia using the possibility of returning Snowden as a distraction from something bigger? Tell us what you think.
[Featured Image by The Guardian/Getty Images]