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Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

  • Associated Press

FILE - Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

FILE - Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden says he has offered to return to the United States and go to jail for leaking details of National Security Agency programs to intercept electronic communications data on a vast scale.

The former NSA contractor flew to Moscow two years ago after revealing information about the previously secret eavesdropping powers, and faces U.S. charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.

Snowden told the BBC that he'd "volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,'' but had not received a formal plea-deal offer.

He said that "so far they've said they won't torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven't gotten much further than that.''

In an interview broadcast Monday on the BBC's "Panorama'' program, Snowden said he and his lawyers were waiting for U.S. officials "to call us back.''

Earlier this year, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility.

Snowden's revelations about the NSA, Britain's GCHQ and other intelligence agencies set off an international debate about spies' powers to monitor personal communications, and about the balance between security and privacy.

Critics say his disclosures harmed the ability of the United States and its allies to fight terrorism. FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.

"The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?'' Snowden said. "I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.

"I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I've made,'' he added. "If I'm gone tomorrow, I'm happy with what I had. I feel blessed.''

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