Controversial figure Edward Snowden, accused of compromising United States security, desperately wants to come back home. But he has one demand – Don’t call him a traitor.
During a broadcast Monday on the BBC’s “Panorama” program, Snowden says he has offered to return to the United States and face prison for leaking details of National Security Agency programs to intercept electronic communications data on a vast scale.
Critics say his disclosures harmed the ability of the United States and its allies to fight terrorism. FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.
“The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?” Snowden said. “I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.
“I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made,” he added. “If I’m gone tomorrow, I’m happy with what I had. I feel blessed.”
The former NSA contractor flew to Moscow two years ago after revealing information about the previously secret eavesdropping powers, and faces U.S. charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
Snowden told the BBC that he’d “volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,” but is still waiting for a formal plea-deal offer.
Earlier this year, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility.
Snowden’s revelations about the NSA, Britain’s GCHQ and other intelligence agencies set off an international debate about spies’ powers to monitor personal communications, and about the balance between security and privacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this article