NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden may be facing extradition to the U.S. by Vladimir Putin in a trade deal for infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Speculation suggests that Putin may send back Snowden to help improve the complicated relationship between Moscow and Russia.
As Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills posts lighthearted photos on Instagram, there is mounting evidence to suggest that Snowden is worried that he may be sent back to the U.S.
According to the Daily Mail, a source said: “A way forward could be an exchange like negotiated when Anna Chapman and other ‘illegal agents’ returned to Moscow. This could involve an agreement that neither side would pursue criminal action against the parties.”
In February, NBC quoted a senior U.S. official saying that Russia was thinking about a Snowden handover “to curry favor” with Trump.
The move would be like Putin’s “gift to Trump,” making progress toward warmer relations and an end to sanctions.
Snowden could face up to 1,000-years behind bars for leaking NSA secrets.
Despite bright photos of the whistleblower and his girlfriend being posted on her social media, 33-year-old Snowden appears scared that his Russian bolthole could be taken away by Putin’s mission to establish better relations with Washington.
While Snowden has been told that he can stay in Moscow until 2020, he is seemingly worried this does not give him enough security.
In a move that would infuriate Washington, his lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck asked the European Parliament to consider awarding him asylum.
Berlin-based attorney Kaleck claimed that the EU countries were indebted to the whistleblower for exposing U.S. spying on European governments.
His Moscow lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has also said that he could apply for Russian citizenship after being a resident for five years, which would prevent him from being extradited to the U.S.
One of the men being considered in the exchange is allegedly convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, 50, who is also known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Bout, who served as an officer in the air force, was kidnapped by U.S. authorities in Thailand in 2011 and was found guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and provide material support to terrorists.
The Russian arms merchant, who was portrayed in the movie “Lord of War” starring Nicholas Cage, had an appeal to overturn his 25-year prison sentence denied in November 2016.
In Russia, journalist and political analyst Sergey Parkhomenko claimed that Putin and Trump had already set an exchange of Edward Snowden for Bout. However, a pause was put on the deal because of the political backlash in the U.S. over Trump’s reported associations with Russia.
Kucherena maintained that Moscow “has no legal basis to hand over Snowden,” and urged Trump to make it safe for Snowden to return to the U.S.
“We all hope that the president will take a balanced approach to this and make the correct decision – to terminate criminal prosecution of Snowden, a man who loves America and misses it,” he stated.
“The way I see it, he would gain far more authority if he saw all insinuations about Snowden were brought to an end.”
In Russia, Edward Snowden takes extreme security steps due to fears that U.S. authorities may abduct him.
He lives with his girlfriend, a former pole dancer.
Mills’ photos include racy pictures but also landscape images which very rarely give any indication about their whereabouts.
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted for espionage and theft of top secret intelligence.
He rocked the American intelligence establishment to its core back in 2013 with a string of devastating leaks on mass surveillance in the U.S. and internationally.
They included revelations about spying on foreign leaders.
He has been living in Russia since 2013 after spending weeks in the transit area of Moscow’s airport.
In his efforts to escape “persecution,” Snowden asked over 20 countries for asylum but was not able to leave Russia after his passport was revoked.