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Edward Snowden: Time Is Not Right to Return Home

Whether you call him traitor, whistle-blower, or don’t have much of an opinion of him at all, Edward Snowden has become a major thorn in the side of the United States government. The leaked documents detailing the extent of NSA data collection and surveillance programs has embarrassed the national intelligence community, the Obama administration, and has outraged many Americans and world leaders. In an online interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Snowden said returning home would be the best resolution for all parties, but is “not possible in the face of current whistle-blower protection laws.”

While a shift in public opinion on Snowden has resulted in increased calls for clemency — including in a New York Times editorial — the official position of the U.S. government remains unchanged. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made it clear on Thursday that clemency was not on the table, but the justice department would enter into talks with Snowden’s lawyers on the condition that he enter into a plea bargain without going into detail on what charges Snowden would have to plea guilty to. As accusations have surfaced that Snowden is really a Russian spy, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for him to return to the United States.

And he won’t have to anytime soon.

As The US’ position on Snowden has not changed, neither has the position of the Russian government. According to CNN, it was announced on Friday that the Russians will continue to extend Snowden’s asylum, giving the controversial figure additional time to consider what he will do next.

Should Snowden be allowed to return home?

This is not an issue that will be resolved anytime in the foreseeable future. While Snowden has expressed a desire to return home, he can only expect to be welcomed with a pair of handcuffs and not open arms. He has criticized current whistle-blower protection laws as the murky language seems to discourage people from coming forward instead of assuring them they are safe to do so.

“There are so many holes in the laws, the protections they afford are so weak, and the processes for reporting they provide are so ineffective that they appear to be intended to discourage reporting of even the clearest wrongdoing,” he said. “… My case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistle-blower protection act reform.”