By Carlo Muñoz - 12/29/13 11:34 AM EST
The legal team for exiled former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is angling to bring him back to American shores.
"One thing we can all agree on is Edward Snowden should not be in Russia," Ben Wizner, Snowden's legal adviser and head of the ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy and Technology, said Sunday.
Snowden is currently in Russia, which granted him asylum after the former NSA employee illegally leaked reams of classified information on the agency's bulk intelligence-collection programs.
Administration and U.S. intelligence officials assert Snowden stole more than 1.5 million classified documents detailing specific NSA programs and operations, only a small portion of which have been made public.
As a result, Snowden is facing a slew of espionage charges should he return to the U.S.
The damage done by the Snowden disclosures, which included details of the agency's extensive electronic surveillance operations, has roiled Washington and its allies across the globe.
Tracking of email traffic and cellphone conversations of U.S. citizens at home and abroad set off a flurry of congressional hearings, aimed at reining in the agency's operations.
Earlier this month, a top NSA official suggested the Obama administration could offer Snowden immunity as a way to get back the information he took from the agency.
Rick Ledgett, the head of NSA's Snowden task force, said an amnesty deal for Snowden is "worth having a conversation about," if a deal meant the return of the agency's secrets.
In response, Wizner said Sunday that "amnesty is not a dirty word," suggesting Snowden would be open to such a deal.
Further, Wizner argued the federal espionage statutes under which Snowden is charged do not distinguish between leaking classified information to the public or press, versus taking that information directly to U.S. adversaries.