The Commercial Appeal

Snowden’s dad says son would return to U.S.

- Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden acknowledg­ed Friday that his son broke the law but said he doesn’t think he committed treason, as the Obama administra­tion renewed its calls to Russia to expel Snowden so he can be tried under the Espionage Act.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorean officials say Russian authoritie­s have stymied the country’s efforts to approve a political asylum applicatio­n from the former National Security Agency systems analyst, according to government officials with direct knowledge of the case. Their accounts further complicate the already murky understand­ing of his current status.

In conceding his son’s guilt, Snowden’s father, Lonnie Snowden, told NBC’s “Today” show that his lawyer had informed Atty. Gen. Eric Holder that he believes his son would voluntaril­y return to the United States if the Justice Department prom- ises not to hold him before trial and not subject him to a gag order.

“If folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact, he has betrayed his government. But I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States,” Lonnie Snowden said. The elder Snowden hasn’t spoken to his son since April, but he said he believes he’s being manipulate­d by people at WikiLeaks. The anti-secrecy group has been trying to help Edward Snowden gain asylum.

“I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC. “I think WikiLeaks ... their focus isn’t necessaril­y the Constituti­on of the United States. It’s simply to release as much informatio­n as possible.”

Lonnie Snowden declined to comment when The Associated Press reached him Friday.

U. S. officials said their outreach to Russia, Ecuador and other countries where Snowden might travel to is ongoing.

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