UK
15/12/2013 16:15 GMT | Updated 15/12/2013 16:16 GMT

US Could Consider Granting Amnesty For Snowden, NSA Officer Hints

A frame grab made from AFPTV footage, reportedly taken on October 9, 2013, shows US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden speaking during his dinner with a group of four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists at a luxurious room in an unidentified location. Snowden warned of dangers to democracy in the first video released of the fugitive since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August. AFP PHOTO /  AFPTV        (Photo credit should read AFPTV/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP via Getty Images
A frame grab made from AFPTV footage, reportedly taken on October 9, 2013, shows US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden speaking during his dinner with a group of four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists at a luxurious room in an unidentified location. Snowden warned of dangers to democracy in the first video released of the fugitive since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August. AFP PHOTO / AFPTV (Photo credit should read AFPTV/AFP/Getty Images)

Edward Snowden could be granted amnesty to return to the United States, the NSA official who is in charge of assessing the damage of the whistleblower's leaks, has hinted.

Richard Ledgett, told CBS News that an amnesty, in his “personal view" is "worth having a conversation about.”

“I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part,” he continued.

Snowden has been granted asylum, for 12 months, in Russia. He is subject to criminal charges in the US, of theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and “wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person”.

The Guardian reported that it would have to be approved Justice Department, which did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

And the NSA's director, General Keith Alexander, told the same programme that, in his view, an amnesty would be a green light to potential whistleblowers. "This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say 'You give me full amnesty and I'll let the other 40 go," he said.

Snowden has revealed in previous interviews that the intelligence documents he leaked are no longer in his possession, but in the hands of his trusted journalist partners Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, and that he did not take any intelligence material with him when he flew from Hong Kong to Russia.