Speaking with France’s Inter radio on Monday as part of a press junket to promote his new memoir, the former NSA contractor said “Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act,” adding “Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States.”
“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 at least I 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,” Snowden told CBS This Morning.
“Again, I’m not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pardon. I’m not asking for a pass. 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 to have 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 a jury trial,” Snowden told CBS.
The NSA, meanwhile, told CBS: “Edward Snowden violated his lifetime obligation to protect classified information and betrayed the trust of his coworkers and the American people.”
In 2013 Snowden unsuccessfully applied for asylum in France under former President Francois Hollande, along with several other countries, after he released a trove of classified US information shedding light on America’s mass surveillance apparatus – including unprecedented court-approved access used by the government to collect data on over 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.
Snowden also leaked the NSA’s top-secret black budget to the Washington Post, while also revealing that the NSA had been paying private US tech companies for clandestine access to their networks.
Snowden shares his life story in his new memoir, “Permanent Record,” set to be released on Tuesday in around 20 countries – including France.
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