Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Edward Snowden asks to return 'home' for a fair trial

Snowden says wants to return to the US and also appeals to France for political asylum

To avoid prosecution in the US on espionage charges, Mr Snowden lives in Russia.. AP Photo
To avoid prosecution in the US on espionage charges, Mr Snowden lives in Russia.. AP Photo

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden wants to return home to the US and be heard in a “fair trial” but would not reject an invitation for political asylum in France should he be unable to go back.

Mr Snowden, who is accused of endangering lives by releasing stolen intelligence material, told US television he would not return while he was faced with the threat of imprisonment.

“I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal. But if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom-line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial,” Mr Snowden told CBS This Morning.

“And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defence.”

On Monday, Mr Snowden appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to offer him political asylum, after a senior French Cabinet minister said she would favour offering him protection.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said she supported giving asylum to Mr Snowden but made it clear she was speaking in a personal capacity and that it was not an official offer.

“I applied for asylum in France in 2013 under [former president Francois] Hollande and of course we would love to see Macron roll out an invitation,” Mr Snowden told France Inter radio.

To avoid prosecution in the US on espionage charges, Mr Snowden lives in Russia from where he wrote his new memoir, Permanent Record.

The US authorities want him back on charges of espionage after he publicised details of secret surveillance programs by US intelligence agencies.

Updated: September 16, 2019 08:22 PM

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