Snowden should return to the United States

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 04:30 PM.

The reporter with whom Snowden is working and who originally broke the NSA leaks story, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, told the Argentinean daily La Nacion in an interview published Saturday, "Snowden has enough information to cause more harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had in the history of the United States."

In the history of the United States? If what Greenwald said is true, that’s a heavy cross for anyone to bear. I certainly wouldn’t want to bear it. So yes, overall I feel a little sorry for Snowden.

But then again, Snowden’s problems are of his own making. While I can’t know Snowden’s intentions for leaking NSA secrets, regardless of how noble his intentions may have been, he signed a classified information nondisclosure agreement with Booz Allen Hamilton allowing him access to NSA secrets. Anyone with access to U.S. government secrets must sign such an agreement before being granted access to those secrets. It is a legally binding document between the U.S. government and the individual.

While the words on Snowden’s nondisclosure agreement may have been slightly different, all such nondisclosure statements say the same thing: "Intending to be legally bound, I hereby accept the obligations contained in this Agreement in consideration of being granted access to classified information. … I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handing of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation. … I have been advised that any breach of this agreement may constitute a violation of United States criminal laws."

So I am a bit torn about Snowden. I can’t be positive about much with him. But there is one thing I’m absolutely positive about: Whatever noble intentions Snowden may have had, he failed to uphold his end of the classified information nondisclosure agreement made with the people of the United States. He therefore needs to return to the U.S. to face the espionage charges against him. Any other choice is ignoble and cowardly.

Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at 

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