Edward Snowden not guilty of treason, says father

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Picture: AP/ The Guardian
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Picture: AP/ The Guardian
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The father of Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking US National Security Agency (NSA) secrets, has acknowledged that his son broke the law, but does not think he committed treason.

Lonnie Snowden said his lawyer has informed Attorney General Eric Holder that he believes his son would voluntarily return to the United States if the Justice Department promised not to hold him before trial and not to subject him to a gag order, reports said yesterday.

“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,” said Mr Snowden.

He hasn’t spoken to his son since April, but believes that he is 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,” said Lonnie Snowden. “I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history, you know, their focus isn’t necessarily the constitution of the United States; it’s simply to release as much information as possible.”

Edward Snowden is charged with violating US espionage laws for leaking information about NSA surveillance programmes. He is expected to seek asylum in Ecuador. He flew from Hong Kong to Moscow, but mystery surrounded his whereabouts after Russian president Vladimir Putin said that he was in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport. Mr Putin said he had not passed through immigration and was free to go where he liked.

Hordes of journalists armed with laptops and photo and video cameras have camped in and around the airport looking for Edward Snowden.