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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wants to return to the US

The fugitive's lawyer says he would return home as long as he was given fair trial

Edward Snowden has been living in Moscow since he revealed himself as the man behind the NSA leak of thousands of classified government documents. Now, the guy who pushed the vast (and pretty much illegal) surveillance practices of both the UK and United States into the spotlight is ready to come home – with one crucial caveat.

“Snowden is ready to return to the States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial,” said Anatoly Kucherena, the fugitive’s Russian lawyer, at a news conference on Tuesday. "I won't keep it secret that he wants to return back home. And we are doing everything possible now to solve this issue.”

While the former NSA contractor has been granted a three year residency visa in Russia, its not the first time he’s voiced a desire to go back home.

In an interview with NBC last May, he said he wanted to return to the US, but not to “walk into a jail cell to serve as a bad example for other people who see something happen, some violation of the Constitution and think they need to say something about it.”

Despite the assurance of Attorney General, Eric Holder, that Snowden would not face the death penalty, he would still be charged under the Espionage Act. The World War I-era law would mean Snowden would be tried as a spy, and in effect would deny him the opportunity to defend himself before a jury in an open court.

The US government doesn’t look like changing it's mind any time soon. Speaking to Reuters, Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Justice Department affirmed, “Snowden is not a whistleblower. He is accused of leaking classified information and there is no question his actions have inflicted serious harms on our national security”.

Snowden’s case has been pushed right back into focus after Laura Poitras' documentary, Citizenfour, was awarded an Oscar. Nixon director Oliver Stone has also begun filming his biopic about Snowden's life, with Joseph Gordon Levitt staring as Snowden. 

Watch the Citizenfour trailer below: