Report: Russia Considering Sending Snowden to US to 'Curry Favor' with Trump
According to an NBC News report, Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering sending former NSA contractor Edward Snowden back to the U.S. as a ploy to "curry favor" with President Donald Trump.
The report says a senior U.S. official analyzed highly sensitive Russian intelligence information detailing conversations among Russian officials considering Snowden's return as a goodwill gesture. A second U.S. source confirmed the intelligence materials were compiled after Trump's inauguration.
Snowden, known for copying and leaking NSA information in 2013 without prior authorization, has been living in Russia after being given refuge by the Russian government, which has been extended to 2020.
In an interview with CNN in July 2015, Trump said he would take strong action against Snowden.
"I think he's a total traitor, and I would deal with him harshly. And if I were president, Putin would give him over," said Trump, who in October 2013 tweeted that Snowden "should be executed."
Speaking to Yahoo News in December 2016, Snowden said he is not worried about a possible extradition to the U.S. He tweeted Friday that Russia possibly sending him to the U.S. would be a vindication that he is not a Russian spy, since "no country trades away spies."
Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel. No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they're next. https://t.co/YONqZ1gYqm
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 10, 2017
If returned to the U.S., Snowden would be tried for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and if convicted could face up to 30 years in prison.
The White House has not commented on the NBC report.
Watch the above video for more information on Snowden's possible extradition.