Anatoly Kucherena, Edward Snowden’s Russian legal representative, told the press that his client, the former NSA contractor who revealed classified information about several global surveillance programs in the summer of 2013, is willing to return to the United States if promised that he will undergo a fair judicial procedure.
Snowden has spent the past year and a half in a secret location in Russia, the first country who granted him asylum among the 21 countries where he applied for it in July 2013, after the U.S. government had suspended his passport. Although Russia had initially been a transit location before heading to Latin America, where four other countries had promised him asylum, the U.S. fugitive decided, after witnessing the pressure that U.S. officials put on other governments (especially European) to refuse his asylum request, that it was unsafe to leave the Russian territory at that time. In August 2014, after his one-year temporarily asylum had expired, Snowden received a three-year residency permit which allows him to travel outside Russia, but “I suspect that as soon as he leaves Russia, he will be taken to the U.S. embassy” – his lawyer says.
However, the situation seems to be about to improve. Negotiations between Snowden’s lawyer (along with several lawyers from other countries) and the U.S. government might lead to the whistle-blower’s return to the U.S. His demand, according to his lawyer’s declaration, is “that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial”.
So far, the U.S. Attorney General had only promised that Snowden’s supposed crime will not be punished with the death penalty. Since no further guarantees were yet offered, and since he was accused, on June 14, 2013, of the violation of the Espionage Act and of the theft of government property, for which he could face as much as 30 years of imprisonment, the dissident’s return is still uncertain.
image source: New York Post
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