Snowden: There’s ‘No Fair Trial Available’ If I Return
Bret Hartman/TED. Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance at the TED Conference in Vancouver via robot.
Note: This week there were reports that Edward Snowden’s lawyers were negotiating his return to the United States. The reports quoted his Russian lawyer saying that Snowden would return if he was assured of a fair trial. This comment had us worried because we do not see how a fair trial is possible in the current US justice system. The federal government was insisting that if he returned he would have to face espionage charges. for which legitimate defenses are excluded. We were pleased to see Snowden recognized that reality in the article below.
Glenn Greenwald reported in the Intercept:
Most sentient people rationally accept that the U.S. media routinely disseminates misleading stories and outright falsehoods in the most authoritative tones. But it’s nonetheless valuable to examine particularly egregious case studies to see how that works. In that spirit, let’s take yesterday’s numerous, breathlessreports trumpeting the “BREAKING” news that “Edward Snowden now wants to come home!” and is “now negotiating the terms of his return!”
Ever since Snowden revealed himself to the public 20 months ago, he has repeatedly said the same exact thing when asked about his returning to the U.S.: I would love to come home, and would do so if I could get a fair trial, but right now, I can’t.
His primary rationale for this argument has long been that under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute under which he has been charged, he would be barred by U.S. courts from even raising his key defense: that the information he revealed to journalists should never have been concealed in the first place and he was thus justified in disclosing it to journalists. In other words, when U.S. political and media figures say Snowden should “man up,” come home and argue to a court that he did nothing wrong, they are deceiving the public, since they have made certain that whistleblowers charged with “espionage” are legally barred from even raising that defense.
What really happened? Greenwald explains:
Yesterday, in Moscow, Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena held a press conference to promote his new book, was asked about Snowden’s case, and said exactly what has been known for almost two years: “He has a desire to go back, and we are doing everything possible to make that happen.” Kucherena added that lawyers in various countries have been working on Snowden’s behalf to negotiate terms for a fair trial.
Here is how Reuters reported it. They get an incomplete.
TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) – Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of the government’s mass surveillance programs, said on Wednesday he is not being offered a fair trial if he returns to the United States.
“I would love to go back and face a fair trial, but unfortunately … there is no fair trial available, on offer right now,” he said in a live question and answer discussion organized by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Ryerson University and the CBC.
“I’ve been working exhaustively with the government now since I left to try to find terms of a trial.”