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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

We are live on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, with the latest news and analysis.

We are live on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, with the latest news and analysis.

January 23rd, 2014
04:28 PM ET

Edward Snowden responds to CNN's Jake Tapper's question: Under what conditions would you agree to return to the U.S.?

(CNN) - CNN's Jake Tapper asked former National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden Thursday, via Twitter, "Under what conditions would you agree to return to the U.S.?"

In his live Q&A happening online right now, Snowden replied:

Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself, but it’s unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself.

"The hundred-year old law under which I’ve been charged, which was never intended to be used against people working in the public interest, and forbids a public interest defense. This is especially frustrating, because it means there’s no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury.

Maybe when Congress comes together to end the programs the PCLOB just announced was illegal, they’ll reform the Whistleblower Protection Act, and we’ll see a mechanism for all Americans, no matter who they work for, to get a fair trial.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he is is prepared to let the Justice Department talk to Snowden's lawyers about how he can return home to the U.S, a Justice Department official tells CNN.

“If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We would do the same with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty,” Holder said Thursday, speaking at an event at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

“We've always indicated that the notion of clemency isn't something that we were willing to consider,” Holder added.

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