The Obama administration is increasingly less inclined to make a deal to allow Edward Snowden to come back to the United States, according to a top National Security Agency official.
"As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less," NSA No. 2 Rick Ledgett said this weekend at Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, according to Politico. "It's been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser."
The comment could point to increasing difficulty for Snowden and his lawyers try to cut a deal that would allow the former contractor to return home from Russia, where he has sought asylum for the last year.
The Obama administration has ruled out amnesty for Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on a number of espionage charges, but has expressed some willingness to cut a deal for a gentler sentence, possibly under the condition that he return as-yet-unrevealed documents that he took from the spy agency.
But the more that his disclosures slip into the rearview mirror, the less appealing that type of deal would be, Ledgett said.
“As time goes on, his information becomes less useful," he told the audience at the security conference.
Snowden fled to Russia last summer, after first hiding out in Hong Kong. He has been there ever since on a short-term asylum deal that was recently renewed, but may have limited options in the future, especially if the Obama administration grows less willing to let him come back.