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No change on Snowden policy, White House says

Dec. 16, 2013 at 2:03 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- There is no change in policy toward former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the White House said Monday, after suggestions surfaced an amnesty might be offered.

"Mr. Snowden is charged with a felony and he should return home to face those charges," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

Her comments came after Rick Ledgett, who runs the National Security Agency task force assembled to determine the level of damage created by Snowden's revelations, said on the CBS television program "60 Minutes" Sunday the question of amnesty, in return for a cache of top-secret documents, was "worth having a conversation about."

Ledgett is expected to become NSA deputy director in January, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Monday.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told the British newspaper The Guardian that Ledgett statements were "a personal view."

"Our position has not changed," Harf said.

Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, says he is opposed to an amnesty proposal.

"I think people have to be held accountable for their actions," Alexander told CBS.

Granting Snowden amnesty, he said, would be "analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, 'If you give me full amnesty I'll let the other 40 go.'"

"I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high," Ledgett said. "It would be more than just an assertion on his part."

Snowden has yet to reveal about 31,000 documents he "scraped" from NSA files, Ledgett said.

Snowden was granted a year-long asylum in Russia, and journalists with who he collaborated have continued to publish stories revealing the size and scope of the NSA's intelligence-gathering operations. They included details of U.S. efforts to monitors telephone calls of foreign leaders, sparking a diplomatic crisis for the Obama Administration, The Hill said.

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