The father of fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden Friday insisted his son was not a traitor for revealing details of secret US surveillance programmes,although admittedly he did break the law.
In an interview with NBC News,Lonnie Snowden also said he had told US Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son would probably be willing to return home so long as the Justice Department agrees not to detain him before trial or impose a gag order on him.
Snowden also said he wants his son to be able to choose where he goes on trial on espionage charges filed in the wake of the revelations made by the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor.
However,he admitted he has not spoken to his son since April,long before he started spilling the beans on the surveillance programmes. So it was not immediately clear how the father knew of his sons apparent intentions.
At this point I dont feel that hes committed treason. He has in fact broken US law,in the sense that he has released classified information, Lonnie Snowden told NBC.
And if folks want to classify him as a traitor,in fact he has betrayed his government. But I dont believe that hes betrayed the people of the United States.
Snowden left his job in Hawaii in mid-May and fled to Hong Kong. He then began issuing a series of leaks on the NSAs global gathering of phone call logs and Internet data,including in China and Hong Kong. He fled to Moscow this week,and Russia is defying US pressure to hand him over,saying there is no extradition treaty.
Snowden,who is being assisted by the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks,has applied for asylum in Ecuador. The United States has charged him with espionage.
Lonnie Snowden told NBC he fears his son might be used by WikiLeaks. I love him. I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him, Snowden senior said. I dont want to put him in peril,but I am concerned about those who surround him, he added.
I think WikiLeaks,if youve looked at past history,you know,their focus isnt necessarily the Constitution of the United States. Its simply to release as much information as possible.
Russia says U.S. put it in tough spot over Snowden
MOSCOW: Russia Friday accused the United States of putting it in a tough spot,claiming Washington never disclosed that it had revoked the travel passport of Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor spent Friday holed up in a Moscow airport for a sixth day. A Russian official Friday accused the US of apparently deliberately putting Moscow in a difficult position by never reporting that Snowdens passport had been revoked,Interfax reported. The official said Moscow might not have allowed Snowden to fly to Russia had it known about his travel problems. PTI