Edward Snowden US return: Government hints at possible plea bargain to see fugitive NSA contractor come back from Russia

But the whistleblower says he cannot go home when there’s ‘no chance to have a fair trial’

The US has hinted that a plea bargain could to struck to see the fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden return from Russia.

The Attorney General Eric Holder said he would be willing to “engage in conversation” with the agency whistleblower, whose revelations showed the extent to which the National Security Agency was collecting data spying on its own people.

Speaking from Virginia in an interview with MSNBC, Mr Holder admitted that the government would not consider offering the man he called the “defendant” a full amnesty.

Granting clemency “were we say no harm, no foul… would be going too far”, he said.

But Mr Holder added: “If Mr Snowden wanted to come back to the US, enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We'd do that with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty.“

The interview coincided with an online question-and-answer session given by Mr Snowden, in which he hit out once more at the “indiscriminate mass surveillance” carried out by governments, and condemned the alleged threats to his life made by unnamed US intelligence officials in the media.

Mr Snowden, living in temporary asylum in Russia after stealing and disclosing US government secrets on surveillance programs and other activities, faces criminal charges in the US after fleeing last year first to Hong Kong and then Moscow.

In his online session, Mr Snowden was asked to explain the conditions he needed to return to the US.

“Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself, but it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself,” Mr Snowden wrote.

He said the law under which he was charged “was never intended to be used against people working in the public interest and forbids a public interest defence”. He added that as things stand “there's no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate