Edward Snowden – the man responsible for one of the biggest data breaches in US history – has been living in Russia for some time.
Snowden previously worked for the NSA, and while there he stole highly classified documents. Snowden gave the documents to journalists in 2013 – and revealed information about US domestic surveillance.
Evading charges under the US Espionage Act, Snowden went to Hong Kong, later ending up in Russia, where he was given residency.
Now however, NBC News reports that several US Intel officials say handing Snowden back to the US is being considered by Russia, in an attempt to gain more favour with President Donald Trump.
Said one former NSA advisor, “For Russia, this would be a win-win. They’ve already extracted what they needed from Edward Snowden in terms of information and they’ve certainly used him to beat the United States over the head in terms of its surveillance and cyber activity.”
While the Trump White House has made no official comment, the position of the US government is that they want Snowden back to face charges.
Mike Pompeo – head of the CIA – has called for Snowden to get the death penalty. And in a 2013 tweet, now-President Trump called Snowden “a spy who should be executed.”
Snowden is a divisive figure. Many see him as a hero for sharing information on how the US government spied on citizens. However – many others – including many in the military and intel community, say Snowden’s theft of information put lives at risk.
Snowden’s fate now rests in the hands of Vladimir Putin, who may very well see handing him to the US as a strong bargaining chip in future deal-making between the two countries.
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