Russian Lawyer Reasserts Snowden's Desire to Return Home
Ongoing efforts to bring Snowden home dependent on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial, says attorney
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's well-established desire to end his asylum in Russia and return home to the United States if promised access to "fair and impartial" legal proceedings is in the news again on Tuesday following new comments by his Russian lawyer that sparked a flurry of headlines.
"He thinks that he has a chance to go back, and we are doing everything possible to make that happen," said the attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
"With a group of lawyers from other countries, we are working on the question of his return to America," Kucherena added. "Snowden is ready to return to the States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial."
Attorney General Eric Holder stated in a letter to Snowden's legal team in 2013 that the whistleblower would not face the death penalty if he returned home, but Kucherena said Tuesday those promises were not enough.
"[T]hey guarantee that Snowden will not be executed, not that he will receive a fair trial. And it is guaranteed by attorney [general] who cannot even influence court decisions according to law," he said during the press conference.
"A trial under the Espionage Act would not be considered fair," Jesselyn Radack, director of the national security and human rights program at the Government Accountability Project and one of Snowden's legal advisors, told Politico.
In his remarks, Kucherena also noted that he and Snowden often find themselves evading unknown followers in Moscow. "We are constantly being followed," he said. "I sometimes don't know what route to take back home. I honestly don't know who they are."
In May of last year, Snowden himself told NBC News that he would like to return home, but only under the appropriate conditions. "I'm not going to give myself a parade... But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell—to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution and think they need to say something about it."
Linguist and writer Noam Chomsky told Democracy Now! on Monday that Snowden "should be welcomed as a person who carried out the obligations of a citizen."
Chomsky continued, "He informed American citizens of what their government is doing to them. That's exactly what a person who has real patriotism, not the flag-waving type, but real patriotism, would do. So he should be honored, not just allowed back. It's the people in the government who should be on trial, not him."
The news comes directly after the Justice Department announced it had reached a plea deal with former CIA director David Petraeus over his giving classified military information to his mistress and biographer in 2012. Petraeus faces a maximum of one year in prison.