Russia is considering returning Edward Snowden to the United States as a gift to Donald Trump, it has been claimed.
Citing unnamed US intelligence sources, NBC News said Moscow is willing to hand the whistleblower over to the American authorities.
The claims are based on a reported analysis of intelligence reports and are seen as evidence of Vladimir Putin trying to curry favour with Donald Trump.
Mr Putin's spokesman dismissed the reports; the White House declined to comment and the Department of Justice said it would welcome his return.
Snowden, who worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency's plant in Hawaii, has been sought by the US authorities since he handed over details of widespread domestic surveillance to journalists in 2013.
He fled to Hong Kong and was charged with breaches of the US Espionage Act. Snowden then moved to Russia where he was granted residency, with his permit recently being extended to 2020.
In 2013 Donald Trump said Snowden should be executed and during the campaign he said he would deal with him harshly should he ever be returned to the USA.
Mike Pompeo, the newly appointed director of the CIA, also called for Snowden to be excuted. "I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence," he said last February.
Ben Wizner, Snowden's lawyer said he was "unaware" of any plans to return him to the US.