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Report: Russia may hand Snowden over to U.S.
Russia is deliberating sending Edward Snowden as a “gift” to President Donald Trump, according to a new report from NBC. Trump has previously been outspoken in his contempt for and disapproval of the former NSA contractor, whom he’s called a “traitor” and a “spy.”
The idea reportedly came from former CIA acting director Michael Morell, who suggested President Vladimir Putin consider this course of action as the “perfect inauguration gift” for Trump. Morell wrote in his opinion column that this would help relations between the two countries, establishing them as equals.
Snowden had been working for the National Security Agency when he began stealing top-secret U.S. surveillance intelligence, which he leaked to journalists for publication in 2013. Since then the public has been divided on Snowden, with some hailing him as a whistleblower. While Snowden broke United States laws and could face 30 years in prison, Russia granted him temporary asylum when he fled to Moscow in 2014. This leave to remain has recently been extended until 2020.
Snowden has maintained that he “did the right thing,” and reportedly wants to return to the U.S.
For his part, Snowden took to Twitter to address the reports late Friday. He didn’t refute the possibility that Russia would send him back. Snowden instead pushed back against the rumor that he has worked for the Russian government:
Snowden’s ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov deny any such deliberations from Russia. There has been no other confirmation of these plans.