The White House on Monday said there had been “no change in U.S. policy” toward Edward Snowden, after a top National Security Agency official suggested the administration have a “conversation” about offering the former NSA contractor amnesty in exchange for the return of a cache of top-secret documents he stole.
“Mr. Snowden is charged with a felony and he should return home to face those charges, where he will be afforded all due process,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
During an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, Richard Ledgett, who heads an NSA task force handling unauthorized disclosures, said officials should weigh offering amnesty to prevent further disclosures.
“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett said. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
Ledgett is expected to take over as deputy director of the spy agency in January, following the retirement of John “Chris” Inglis. He was previously director of the NSA's Threat Operations Center and director for collection/national intelligence manager for cyber at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Snowden has taken up temporary asylum in Russia, after originally fleeing to — and then from — Hong Kong earlier this summer. After spending more than a month in the Moscow international airport after the U.S. revoked his travel documents, Russian authorities provided him a year-long asylum stay.