After some six years living in Russian as a political asylum-seeker, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden announced in an exclusive interview with CBS News earlier this morning his desire to return to U.S. soil under the condition that he gets a fair trial.
Snowden is the man who uncovered a U.S. government-led mass surveillance program whereby American citizens were having their mobile phones, emails, social media, and other internet activity monitored and documented by the NSA, an intelligence strategy that Snowden argues is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
In the illuminating interview, Snowden shares the isolating nature of his experience. While he was working for the NSA, using their hardware and working on agency tasks, he was officially employed as a private contractor, meaning that whistleblower protection laws did not apply to him. That means anyone he told about any potential violations of privacy would be charged with conspiracy had they not come forward with the information right away.
“I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal. But if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial. And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense.”
"Did I break the law? Again, what's the question that's more important here? Was the law broken or was that the right thing to do?" — Edward @Snowden on revealing classified U.S. docs pic.twitter.com/blbeHmTCP5
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 16, 2019
While some see Snowden as an American hero, many see him as a traitor in violation of his oath of service to America. The NSA issued an official statement that Snowden had violated his obligation to protect classified information, betraying the trust of both his co-workers and the American people.
Snowden is accused of causing harm with his decision to blow the whistle, but counter-argues that if there was any evidence that even a single hair had been harmed on the head of an individual, it would be “on the front page of The New York Times by the end of the day.” Snowden went on to state that the question isn’t whether the law was broken, but whether his actions were the right thing to do.
“I’m not asking for a parade, I’m asking for a pardon…” Snowden said. “What I am asking for is a fair trial.”
The news arrives some months after The Inquisitr reported that the Ecuadorian government had revoked the asylum privileges of WikiLeak’s Julian Assange in what Snowden described as a “dark moment for press freedom.”