Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — who notoriously leaked classified government documents exposing domestic surveillance programs — says he would like to end his exile in Russia and come home to America, but claims the U.S. government will not guarantee him a fair trial.
What are the details?
In an exclusive interview with CBS This Morning, Snowden said, "I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal. But if I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that I at least get a fair trial. And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won't provide access to what's called a public interest defense."
"I'm not asking for a parade. I'm not asking for a pardon. I'm not asking for a pass," Snowden continued. "What I'm asking for is a fair trial. And this is the bottom line that any American should require. We don't want people thrown in prison without the jury being able to decide that what they did was right or wrong. The government wants a different kind of trial. They want to use special procedures, they want to be able to close the courtroom, they want the public not to be able to go, know what's going on."
"And essentially, the most important fact to the government and this is the thing we have a point of contention on, is that they do not want the jury to be able to consider the motivations. Why I did what I did. Was it better for the United States? Did it benefit us or did it cause harm? They don't want the jury to consider that at all. They want the jury strictly to consider whether these actions were lawful or unlawful, not whether they were right or wrong. And I'm sorry, but that defeats the purpose of any trial."
Snowden did concede, "It's not hard to make the argument that I broke the law."
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The Washington Post reported Snowden has been promoting his new book, "Permanent Record," a memoir telling his own account of how he revealed "the sweeping and invasive surveillance networks that the CIA and National Security Agency had erected in the aftermath of 9/11."
Snowden has been living in exile since fleeing the U.S. in 2013.