NEW YORK, June 23 (RIA Novosti) – The US Congress should sponsor the return of the fugitive data-leaker Edward Snowden to the US for a fair hearing with full legal protections, a former US whistleblower told RIA Novosti.
J Kirk Wiebe, who revealed National Security Agency (NSA) secrets in 2007, said Snowden is “innocent until proven guilty” and deserves a congressional hearing. Snowden currently lives in Russia, under a temporary asylum deal that expires in August.
“Snowden should be allowed to return home and he should be sponsored by the US Congress on behalf of the American people. The hearing should be conducted as a quasi-court, using Congress’s power to subpoena,” Wiebe told RIA Novosti.
“The full Congress should vote on Snowden’s behavior in terms of what should happen with him. If he is unhappy with the result, he should have the option for direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Wiebe is one of four NSA whistleblowers who say they suffered harassment and unfair legal action after being accused of leaking information about a multibillion-dollar contract for a botched NSA data-gathering system in 2007.
He told RIA Novosti that the US government should do more to make it easier for leakers to have their grievances aired.
“Whistleblowers do not have adequate, fair channels by which to voice complaints involving wrong-doing. This is especially true of those who work within the larger intelligence community of the US Government,” he said. “Existing paths are used to protect the interests of the Government, not the interests of the American people or the whistleblower.”
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked information about the US government eavesdropping on US citizens and overseas leaders last year, sparking domestic and foreign outrage. He is accused of releasing classified intelligence to an unauthorized person and other charges.
One year ago exactly, on June 23, Edward Snowden came to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport after the US revoked his passport and requested his extradition from Hong Kong.
The fugitive whistleblower spent a month living in the transit zone of the airport, waiting for decisions on his numerous asylum applications.
On August 1, 2013, he received political asylum in Russia for one year. His lawyer Anatoly Kucherena earlier said that Snowden intended to extend his asylum term in the country.