Russia is considering handing the American whistleblower Edward Snowden over to the U.S. government in a bid to "curry favor" with President Donald Trump, according to a thinly sourced report from NBC News.
The report is based on the comments to the broadcast network by "a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports" dealing with Russian's deliberations on the subject. A second intelligence official, NBC News said on their nightly broadcast, confirmed the account.
Snowden's lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Ben Wizner, told the network that the former National Security Agency contractor's team had not heard any rumblings of a possible transfer. "Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern," said Wizner.
A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC the notion of Russia handing Snowden over was "nonsense."
In 2013, Snowden, who was then a contractor for the NSA after having been an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, leaked a trove of documents to various Western journalists. The documents revealed programs to collect data from millions of Americans' communications and spurred court cases and, eventually, minor intelligence reforms.