The father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said Sunday that he received a Russian visa to visit his son, and he doubted whether the former government contractor would receive a fair trial if he came back to the United States.
“The only deal will be true justice,” Lon Snowden said on ABC’s “This Week,” dismissing the prospect of his son accepting a plea deal from the federal government.
Lon Snowden and family attorney Bruce Fein said that they have received visas from the Russian government to visit Snowden. They would not reveal the date of their trip. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum, even though he faces a trio of espionage charges in the U.S. for leaking details about American phone and Internet surveillance programs.
Much of Washington has been debating whether the ex-CIA official is a traitor or hero. Not surprisingly, Snowden’s father put him in the latter group.
“My son has spoken the truth,” Lon Snowden said. “He has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or [New York Rep.] Peter King have ever in their political careers or American lives.”
King criticized President Obama for catering to Snowden after the president said Friday he would tweak surveillance programs disclosed by the former NSA contractor. King called Snowden a traitor and said he was pulling "the puppet strings."
Ideally, Lon Snowden said he would like his son to come home. But without assurances that the ex-CIA official would receive a fair trial, Snowden’s father said it would be difficult for the fugitive to leave Russia.
Obama has repeatedly said that had Edward Snowden wanted to come forward with concerns, he should have first gone through the available channels for whistle blowers. Lon Snowden called such an argument “dishonest.”
A pair of lawmakers who followed Snowden on the ABC program were not so sympathetic to his son’s cause.
“In my view, Ed Snowden is a fugitive who deserves to be in [an] American courtroom, not in asylum in Russia,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said. “I believe he would have gotten a fair hearing.”
Added Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., “We have to keep in mind here that the conundrum we’re in is one in which al Qaeda is first trying to learn how we track them … When you have someone who is giving out the means and methods in which we’re tracking al Qaeda, it is a problem for the United States.”