Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has spoken on a report suggesting Vladimir Putin is considering sending him back to the US as a “gift” to President Donald Trump, claiming the story proves he is not a spy.
"Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel," Snowden said. "No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they're next."
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
Late Friday NBC News reported:
U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.
That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.
Snowden's ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, says they are unaware of any plans that would send him back to the United States. "Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern," Wizner told NBC News.
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) February 10, 2017
Then candidate Donald Trump, speaking about Snowden at a Republican primary debate in March 2016, said: “I said he was a spy and we should get him back. And if Russia respected our country, they would have sent him back immediately, but he was a spy. It didn’t take me a long time to figure that one out.”
Previously, Politico reported on a Trump appearance on FOX News in 2013:
Repeatedly calling Edward Snowden a “traitor,” Donald Trump alluded to the death penalty on Monday while discussing the NSA leaker.
“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country, you know what we used to do to traitors right?” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
“Well, you killed them, Donald,” host Eric Bolling said.
Trump said Snowden is doing tremendous damage to the country and that the United States must get him back.
“This guy is really doing damage to this country, and he’s also making us looks like dopes,” Trump said. “We can’t allow this guy to go out there and give out all our secrets and also embarrass us at every level. We should get him back and get him back now.”
In an interview streamed on Twitter in December, Snowden said being forced to return to the U.S. would be a human-rights violation but would also put to rest to accusations that he is a Russian spy.
"A lot of people have asked me: Is there going to be some kind of deal where Trump says, 'Hey look, give this guy to me as some kind of present'? Will I be sent back to the U.S., where I'll be facing a show trial?" Snowden said.
"Is this going to happen? I don't know. Could it happen? Sure. Am I worried about it? Not really, because here's the thing: I am very comfortable with the decisions that I've made. I know I did the right thing."