Watch CBS News

Holder: Clemency deal not on the table for Snowden

The U.S. attorney general is ruling out any deal with Edward Snowden, and the former National Security Agency contractor, who stole millions of secret documents, says he has no plans to come back to America.

One of the biggest questions in the Snowden case has been how the U.S. government intends to bring him to justice for the crimes they say he committed, Chip Reid reported on "CBS This Morning." Now, the nation's top law enforcement official is weighing in on how to get Snowden home.

Speaking at a forum at the University of Virginia Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder made clear that while the government very much wants to bring Snowden back to the United States, a deal involving clemency for the former NSA contractor is not on the table.

"If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States, enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers," Holder said.

At about the same time Thursday, Snowden himself was engaged in an online dialogue on Twitter and was asked under what conditions he would return to the United States.

"Returning to the U.S., I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public and myself," Snowden wrote. "But it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws."

The attorney general, however, said he does not view Snowden as a whistleblower.

"From my perspective, he's a defendant," Holder said. "He's a person that we have lodged criminal charges against, and I think that's the most apt title."

Whatever the correct label, the majority of Americans believe Snowden should stand trial in the U.S. rather than receive amnesty to come home.

Thursday's conversation follows a week in which Snowden has traded accusations with his critics.

On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers suggested that Snowden must have had help from the Russian security service.

"The way he departed and how he ended up in Moscow - now, we still have some questions there, but I can guarantee you that he's in the loving arms of an FSB agent right today, and that's not good for the United States," he said.

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Snowden said he "clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.