Some top officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) might be in favor of giving leaker Edward Snowden amnesty if he would return the estimated 1.5 million documents he has yet to leak.
In an interview with CBS News
, Rick Leggett, the NSA official tasked with preventing another leak, said amnesty “was worth having a conversation about.”
Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia, has indicated he would come back to the U.S. if amnesty were granted.
Leggett, who is also responsible for trying to figure out the damage done by the Snowden leaks, said he would “need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
Leggett also said his views are not shared with other top brass at the NSA. Among those is NSA leader Gen. Keith Alexander.
Alexander told CBS that giving amnesty would be “analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, ‘If you give me full amnesty, I'll let the other 40 go.’ What do you do?”
Alexander continued, saying “people have to be held accountable for their actions.”
Since fleeing to Hong Kong last May, Snowden’s revelations that the U.S. government was involved in massive surveilling phones, email and social media communications have sparked controversy around the world.
The U.S. Justice Department has filed criminal charges against Snowden — theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person.