Russia is considering turning over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a gift to Donald Trump, according to several published reports.
The news was broken by NBC, which wrote that “a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to ‘curry favor’ with Trump” that the Russian government is supposedly considering.
NBC reported that U.S. intelligence had collected information pointing to the possibility of a Snowden handover.
Of course, the American president has long been criticized by opponents for supposedly being too favorable to Russia. His National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under scrutiny because of reports in The Washington Post and New York Times that Flynn spoke about sanctions with the Russian ambassador the day before the Obama administration socked Russia with them.
In fact, some people felt the Snowden gift story was a big distraction from the really serious story about Russia: Flynn.
Snowden took to Twitter to comment on the story.
He also posted this video:
Trump previously wrote on Twitter that Snowden was a spy who deserved execution. According to the New York Daily News, Snowden “has been charged under the Espionage Act and could face decades in prison, though Trump and other officials have suggested the death penalty.” He’s been receiving haven in Russia for years after stealing and leaking government secrets – he said to expose abuses.
Snowden’s team doesn’t seem very concerned about the “gift” report – at least publicly.
Ben Wizner, Snowden’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer, told The Hill, “Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern.”
The Kremlin dubbed the report “nonsense,” and the White House wouldn’t comment, according to the Hill.
Two days ago, a Russian news site reported that Snowden was raising concerns about Russian anti-terror bills. The “new package of Russian anti-terror bills that comes into being next year would violate privacy rights and hurt Russians, US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden warned on Wednesday,” the site reported.
The Daily News reported that Snowden’s online and other criticism of Russia lately might be upsetting his Russian handlers, and noted that Russia’s motive for a Snowden hand over might be to seek the removal of sanctions.