Snowden could return to US if guaranteed fair trial, says father
THE fugitive intelligence contractor who leaked documents on US spying operations is being "manipulated" by people around him and would return to the US if he was guaranteed a fair trial, his father has said.
Edward Snowden, who released details of National Security Agency surveillance programmes before fleeing overseas, could go home if he was allowed to choose the location of his trial and was not subjected to a 'gag' order, Lonnie Snowden said.
His son (30) is believed to be still in Russia after leaving Hong Kong and booking a flight for Cuba, which he then did not take. He is thought to be accompanied by Sarah Harrison, a legal adviser for WikiLeaks, which released a vast cache of US diplomatic cables in 2010. She is an ex-girlfriend of its founder, Julian Assange.
Lonnie Snowden told NBC News that WikiLeaks was taking advantage of his son.
"I am concerned about those who surround him," he said. "WikiLeaks – if you look at past history, their focus isn't necessarily the constitution of the United States, it's simply to release as much information as possible. So that alone is a concern for me."
Mr Snowden is facing charges of espionage in the US and has requested political asylum in Ecuador. He has not been seen in public since he arrived in Moscow on Sunday. Russian officials have said he remains in a transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport.
Moscow has declined to extradite Mr Snowden, but appears reluctant to risk a diplomatic incident by allowing him to enter the country formally.
Lonnie Snowden was poised last night to state that his son could return to America in certain circumstances in a letter sent via his lawyer to Eric Holder, the US attorney general.
He conceded he had not been in contact with his son since the weeks before his decision to leave his job and hand a trove of documents to the 'Guardian' and 'Washington Post'.
Amid an ongoing dispute about the Chinese dependency's failure to approve a US extradition request before he travelled on to Russia, Hong Kong stated yesterday that Mr Snowden would not be welcome to return because his American passport had been cancelled.
Hong Kong officials are also demanding more information from the US on claims by Mr Snowden that he had proof that American spies had eavesdropped on communications in China.
In his letter requesting asylum from Ecuador, Mr Snowden said it was "unlikely" that he would get a fair trial in American courts.
Lonnie Snowden said he believed that the American public would forgive his son, who could face life in prison or even the death penalty if convicted under the Espionage Act.
"He has betrayed his government, but I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States," said the fugitive's father. (© Daily Telegraph, London)