As the intelligence stolen by Edward Snowden gets older and older, the former National Security Agency contractor has less and less chance to secure a deal to bring him back home, according to an agency official.
“As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less,” NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado this weekend, according to Politico. “It’s been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser.”
Snowden is currently facing multiple espionage charges in the U.S. for leaking classified intelligence to journalists over one year ago, and his team of U.S. lawyers have been fighting with the Obama administration for a lighter prosecution and reduced prison sentence for months.
The leaker has taken up asylum in Russia for the last year and recently applied for an extension, but has asserted on numerous occasions he wants to come home — even if that means facing some jail time.
One of the key conditions for such a deal could be returning any as-of-yet unpublished or unshared documents, though the administration has already indicated Snowden is not a candidate for full amnesty.
The signals intelligence agency’s deputy director explained that though the Snowden leaks have damaged national security efforts by, among other things, prompting terrorist suspects and other targets to change the way they communicate, such changes occur over time regardless. As a result, the severity of the damage done by Snowden’s leaks will fade over time.
“As time goes on, his information becomes less useful,” Ledgett said.