HONG KONG - 2013: (EDITOR'S NOTE: ONLY AVAILABLE TO NEWS ORGANISATIONS AND NOT FOR ENTERTAINMENT USE) In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA, revealed details of top-secret surveillance conducted by the United States' National Security Agency regarding telecom data. (Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images)
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Notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in 2013 released confidential information about the NSA's efforts to spy on American citizens, has since been hiding out in Russia where he was granted asylum by the Russian government.
But it would appear that the Russian government has now found a more efficient use for Snowden. According to reports by U.S. intelligence, the Russians are considering handing the whistleblower over to the U.S. government as a "gift" in order to garner favor with President Donald Trump's administration.
Upon reentering the United States, Snowden would face three charges under the espionage act which would land him 30 years in prison at the minimum. Both Trump, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo have both mentioned that Snowden deserves execution.
But while this may seem like a good deal for Trump, former deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate thinks the president should be cautious about this offer, according to NBC.
"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," Zarate said.
"It would signal warmer relations and some desire for greater cooperation with the new administration, but it would also no doubt stoke controversies and cases in the U.S. around the role of surveillance, the role of the U.S. intelligence community, and the future of privacy and civil liberties in an American context.
"All of that would perhaps be music to the ears of Putin."
Just last month, the Pardon Snowden campaign submitted a petition with over 1 million signatures that called for all charges against Snowden to be dismissed. The petition contained the signatures of the heads of such organizations as the ACLU, and Amnesty International.
While this is a weighty petition, a Rassmusen poll taken in September of last year showed that only 15 percent of Americans believe that Snowden is a hero, with just under 50 percent saying he is somewhere between a whistleblower and a traitor.
The White House has yet to make any comment about Russia's offer.
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