Russia is considering handing over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to "curry favor" with President Trump, an intelligence source tells NBC. The source claims the handover was discussed in intercepted Russian conversations. Trump has repeatedly described the NSA leaker as a "traitor" who deserves harsh punishment, tweeting in 2013 that Snowden is a "spy who should be executed." In July last year, Trump said that if he became president, Putin would return Snowden to the US. Snowden, however, says the report is proof that he isn't a spy, the Guardian reports. "Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel," he tweeted Friday. "No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they're next."
A Putin spokesman says reports of a Snowden handover are "nonsense," though former deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate tells NBC that such a move would be a "win-win" for Russia. "They've already extracted what they needed from Edward Snowden in terms of information and they've certainly used him to beat the United States over the head in terms of its surveillance and cyber activity," he says. Intelligence sources tell CNN and CBS that intercepted conversations also suggest reports of an explosive Russian dossier on Trump should be taken seriously, though they stress that no proof of "the more salacious things" in the dossier has surfaced. (Last month, Snowden moved a step closer to Russian citizenship.)