Washington: The Obama Administration on Tuesday said the whistleblower Edward Snowden was still a US citizen and it is prepared to issue a "one-entry travel document" to him to return home and face the charges levelled against him.
It also rejected the allegations made by the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, that Snowden is "marooned" in Russia, where he has been stranded at the Moscow airport for the past several days. His passport has been revoked in the absence of which he can`t buy a ticket to travel to any other country.
"We reject - you`ve heard Assange say earlier that he`s sort of marooned in Russia. That`s not true. We`re prepared to issue one-entry travel document. He`s still a US citizen. He still enjoys the rights of his US citizenship, which include the right to a free and fair trial for the crimes he`s been accused of," the State Department spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
"We reject the notion that this is some sort of political prosecution. Indeed, it`s not. These are serious crimes, serious violations of his obligations, and as somebody who had access to classified information, and so our position is that he needs to face a free and fair trial and not be a fugitive," Ventrell said.
Snowden is wanted in the country on the charges of espionage and leaking classified documents. Documents leaked by him early this month exposed a systematic and large-scale surveillance of phone and internet communications by the NSA around the world.
Meanwhile, Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on Russia to facilitate the return of Snowden to the US. "Edward Snowden should return to the United States on his own volition or be returned home to face espionage charges," he said.
"His alleged actions are of the utmost sensitivity to our national security and hiding out in Russia would be highly inconsistent with the principles he claims to defend by seeking asylum in a country that stifles the opinions of its own people. I call on President Putin to work with the Obama Administration to assist in his return to the United States," Menendez said.