Report: Snowden hired Espionage Act expert

 

Edward Snowden retained a well-known lawyer last summer who has previously defended people charged under the Espionage Act, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The former National Security Agency contractor hired Plato Cacheris, based in Washington, sources told the Times. He was brought on try to work on a plea deal for Snowden with federal U.S. prosecutors.

“It’s not something that I want to discuss, so I have no comment” Cacheris told the Times by phone.

Government officials said negotiations still remain at an early stage, even though he was hired nearly a year ago, according to the report.

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Cacheris, who works at law firm Trout Cacheris, has represented other high-profile cases involving the Espionage Act, the report notes. He has defended convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames as well as convicted leaker Lawrence Franklin. 

He has also represented Monica Lewinsky. 

Snowden was charged last year with multiple violations of the Espionage Act after leaking highly classified U.S. documents he stole from the NSA.

He fled the U.S. and has been living in Russia since August, after its government granted him temporary asylum.

Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s lawyers, has said Snowden wants to return to the U.S., but he doesn’t want to be viewed as a criminal.

“He is and always has been on America’s side. He would cooperate in extraordinary ways in the right circumstances. But he does not believe that the ‘felon’ label is the right word for someone whose act of conscience has revitalized democratic oversight of the intelligence community and is leading to historic reforms,” said Wizner, who works for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this year said he would be open to holding talks with Snowden if he returns and pleads guilty to the charges, but rejected clemency as an option.