Edward Snowden’s lawyer says he is ready to come home to the United States.
The former National Security Agency contractor’s Russian lawyer said he’s ready to leave the country that offered him political asylum in 2013 and return to the United States as long as he gets a fair trial.
“He is thinking about it. He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen,” said Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, Agence-France Presse reported Tuesday.
Snowden has remained in Russia since he leaked thousands of classified documents to media outlets that he obtained while working for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
“We’re certainly happy for him to return to the United States to face a court in the very serious charges” he faces, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday.
“So he absolutely can and should return to the United States to face the justice system that will be fair in its judgment of him,” she said. “But he is accused of very serious crimes and should return home to face them.”
Kucherena said Snowden has so far received a guarantee from Attorney General Eric Holder that he will not face the death penalty – but that Snowden also wants a guarantee of a “legal and impartial trial.”
Such a trial, Snowden’s legal advisers have said, would mean he wouldn’t face charges under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that was used to charge Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
Snowden’s lawyer said he’s allowed to travel outside Russia now under a three-year Russian residency permit, but that he believes Snowden would be taken immediately to a U.S. embassy as soon as he leaves the country.
“With a group of lawyers from other countries, we are working on the question of his return to America,” Kucherena said.