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Would return to US if provided chance for fair trial: Snowden

Edward Snowden. Photograph:( AFP )

Sputnik News Agency Moscow, United States Sep 13, 2019, 03.17 PM (IST)

Former US National Security Agency contractor and world-famous whistleblower in exile, Edward Snowden, said that he would return to the United States, only if he could hope for a fair trial there.

Snowden currently lives in Russia and faces charges of breaking confidentiality laws back in the United States.

In a phone interview with National Public Radio, Snowden said that if returned to the United States, he would seek an opportunity to tell a jury why he had leaked classified information to make them understand for themselves whether the materials deserved to be leaked.

"You can't have a fair trial about the disclosure of information unless the jury can evaluate whether it was right or wrong to reveal this information," he said, adding that returning back only to be sentenced would not be a good example for others who are in a similar situation.

According to Snowden, nobody becomes a whistleblower due to a special desire to do so and "no one becomes a whistleblower because it has a happy ending."

Snowden noted that it was not his choice to live in Russia, adding that he had sought asylum in 27 countries. The Russian intelligence services pursued cooperation with him, but he rejected the offer and spent 40 days at the airport.

"If I had played ball, I would have left on Day 1 in a limo; I would have been living in a palace; you would have seen them giving me parades in Red Square ... The reality is this: I had destroyed my access to all the classified material that I provided to journalists before leaving Hong Kong, precisely because I didn't know what was going to happen next," Snowden stressed.

Snowden recalled that he disagreed with Russia's government and President Vladimir Putin on a number of issues.

In 2013, Snowden leaked classified documents that exposed mass surveillance by US authorities around the globe. Snowden fled to Hong Kong, then to Russia, which granted him temporary asylum for one year. In 2014, Snowden received a three-year residence permit to live in Russia, which was later extended until 2020.

Story highlights

Snowden currently lives in Russia and faces charges of breaking confidentiality laws back in the United States.