Edward Snowden has the right to a legal and public defense if he was to return to the United States, according to Hillary Clinton in an interview with The Guardian.
“In any case that I’m aware of as a former lawyer, he has a right to mount a defence,” said Clinton. “And he certainly has a right to launch both a legal defence and a public defence, which can of course affect the legal defence.”
Snowden and his legal advisors have said on a number occasions that it would not be possible to ever return to the US as they did not believe he would receive a fair and just trial. Snowden is currently in Russia with temporary asylum that is due to run out within the next few months.
“If he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable and also able to present a defence, that is his decision to make,” said Clinton, adding that Snowden could potentially remain in Russia for the rest of his life.
“Whether he chooses to return or not is up to him. He certainly can stay in Russia, apparently under Putin’s protection, for the rest of his life if that’s what he chooses. But if he is serious about engaging in the debate then he could take the opportunity to come back and have that debate. But that’s his decision.”
Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union remains unconvinced that Snowden would be treated fairly.
“The laws would not provide him any opportunity to say that the information never should have been withheld from the public in the first place,” he said.
“And the fact that the disclosures have led to the highest journalism rewards, have led to historic reforms in the US and around the world – all of that would be irrelevant in a prosecution under the espionage laws in the United States.”