US former attorney general says Snowden deal possible

Former US official says there was a possibility that US Justice Department could strike a deal with Edward Snowden, allowing him to return from Moscow

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The “possibility exists” for the US Department of Justice to strike a deal that would allow surveillance leaker Edward Snowden to the US, a former attorney general said in a media interview.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo News that Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programmes, “spurred a necessary debate” about the collection of US telephone records.

“I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists,” Holder said in a response to question whether Justice Department is now open to a plea bargain that allows Snowden to return from his self-imposed exile in Moscow.

However, Department of Justice hasn’t changed its position on Snowden, a spokesman said.

“This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed,” Melanie Newman, chief spokeswoman for Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Holder’s successor, said in an email to Yahoo News.

Holder, who left the Justice Department office earlier this year, led a crackdown against government leakers, which included a criminal complaint against Snowden in June.

Snowden was charged with three felony violations of the Espionage Act for turning over tens of thousands of government documents to journalists.

Holder’s comments are not notable since he had previously said — in a January 2014 interview with MSNBC — that the US would be willing to “engage in conversation” with Snowden and his lawyers were he willing to return to the United States to face the charges.

It’s also not clear whether Holder’s comments signal a shift in Obama administration attitudes that could result in a resolution of the charges against Snowden.

TRTWorld and agencies