Snowden: I'd go to prison to return to US
Updated: 2015-10-07 09:09
American whistleblower Edward Snowden delivers remarks via video link from Moscow to attendees at a discussion regarding an International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers in Manhattan, New York September 24, 2015. The event, hosted by global advocacy group Avaaz, was held to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly. [Photo/Agencies]
LONDON - Edward Snowden says he has offered to return to the United States and go to jail for leaking details of National Security Agency programs to intercept electronic communications data on a vast scale.
Snowden told the BBC that he'd "volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," but had not received a formal plea-deal offer.
He said that "so far they've said they won't torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven't gotten much further than that."
In an interview broadcast Monday on the BBC's "Panorama" program, Snowden said he and his lawyers were waiting for US officials "to call us back."
Earlier this year, former US 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.
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."