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Snowden: 'I'd volunteer for prison' for the right reasons

NSA leaker Edward Snowden told Wired he'd volunteer for prison -- if he thought it would serve a purpose.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   Aug. 13, 2014 at 9:31 AM   |   Comments

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MOSCOW, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Edward Snowden may be staying in Russia for the time being, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't come back to the U.S. -- even if if meant jail time.

In a wide-ranging interview with Wired, the NSA leaker living as a fugitive in Moscow described himself as a patriot, but one unwilling to hand himself over without a reason.

"I told the government I'd volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose," he said. "I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can't allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal. I'm not going to be part of that."

The agency said a deal -- any deal -- would only come on U.S. soil.

"If Mr. Snowden wants to discuss his activities, that conversation should be held with the US Department of Justice," NSA spokesman Vanee Vines said. "He needs to return to the United States to face the charges against him."

Despite accusations from high-level U.S. officials, including NSA Director Keith Alexander and Secretary of State John Kerry that he is a traitor, Snowden said he believes the American people are on his side.

"I gave this information back to the public, to public hands, and the reason I did that was not to gain a label but to give you back a choice about the country you want to live in," he said. "If you ask simply about things like my decision to reveal Prism [used by the government to nab user data from companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo] 55 percent of Americans agree. Which is extraordinary given the fact that for a year the government has been saying I'm some kind of supervillain."

Last week, Snowden was granted a three-year extension on his asylum in Russia.

But during the photoshoot for the interview, Snowden copped to being homesick. He posed with an American flag, nervous that it might anger people, but it meant a lot to him.

"He said, 'I love my country. I feel like a patriot. And this is an important thing for me,'" Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich recalled of the moment. "And it was at that moment that we knew that we had the cover."

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