Snowden Looking For A Deal?
A report in The New York Times seems to suggest that NSA leaker Edward Snowden may be looking for a deal that will allow him to come home:
WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who provided journalists a trove of classified documents, retained a well-known Washington defense lawyer last summer in hopes of reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would allow him to return to the United States and spare him significant prison time.
The lawyer, according to people familiar with the investigation, is Plato Cacheris, who has represented defendants in some of the highest-profile cases involving Espionage Act charges, including the convicted spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen and the convicted leaker Lawrence Franklin.
But nearly a year after Mr. Cacheris became involved, no agreement appears imminent, and government officials said the negotiations remained at an early stage.
The officials and others who discussed the case and Mr. Cacheris’s involvement in it spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the talks.
Mr. Snowden, who now lives in Moscow, where he received temporary asylum, was charged last year with multiple violations of the Espionage Act. He faces up to 30 years in prison, and prosecutors could easily add more counts.
In a phone call, Mr. Cacheris said only: “It’s not something that I want to discuss, so I have no comment.”
Obviously, it’s impossible to tell what the status of any negotiations between the government and Snowden’s representatives might be at this point. However, as I’ve noted in the past, there are reasons for both sides to consider a deal. For Snowden, of course, there’s the obvious advantage of ending nearly a year of living as an international fugitive, most of which has been spent in Russia, where things can’t be entirely pleasant at this point. For the government, there’s the potential advantage of being able to determine exactly what Snowden absconded with, and how he did it. Perhaps even more importantly, avoiding a trial in the Snowden matter would alleviate the potential that prosecutors would have to make a choice between aggressively prosecuting their case and potentially revealing national security secrets.
Whether anything ever comes of this is something we won’t know until a deal is actually announced, obviously.