Exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden could be sent “from Russiawith love” as a “gift” to President Donald Trump, according to a report.
NBC wrotethat "highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations" suggest Russia is considering sending Snowden back to the United States to “curry favor” with trump, who has called the fugitive a “spy” and “traitor” who deserves to be executed.
"I think he's a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly," Trump said in July 2015, the Washington Times reported. "And if I were president, Putin would give him over.
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“I would get along with Putin. I’ve dealt with Russia.”
Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage to the U.S. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2014
Snowden's ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, told NBC News that “Team Snowden” isn’t concerned as they have not gotten any information indicating the validity of the claim.
Snowden tweeted that the possibility of his return proves he never worked with the Russian government.
"Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel," Snowden tweeted. "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
In 2013, while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency in Hawaii, Snowden gave journalists details of U.S. domestic surveillance programs. He escaped to Hong Kong and was charged with violating the U.S. Espionage Act before ending up in Russia.
Moscow extended his residency permit until 2020,NPR reportedin January.
"I think this is one of those rare cases where the stakes are so high, the diplomatic implications so deep, that anything can happen," Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the state-run news agency, NBC News reported.
"So this could be a secret diplomatic deal made in the dead of night, or it could be a weeks-in-formation deal with lawyers on all sides," he said.
"I think at the end of the day, Moscow holds the cards here."