The father of Edward Snowden acknowledged Friday that his son broke U.S. law, but maintained that he is not a traitor for releasing classified information about the government’s previously secret surveillance programs.
“At this point I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has in fact broken U.S. law, in a sense that he has released classified information,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC’s Michael Isikoff in an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY. “And 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. “
Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to choose where a trial would take place…
Snowden has reportedly been getting help in his escape plan from WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has been sheltered in Ecuador’s London embassy for the past year.
Lonnie Snowden has not spoken to his son since April, but he fears that Edward may be manipulated by WikiLeaks handlers and would like to get in touch with him.
“I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden said. “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.”
There are distinct differences between WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. The WikiLeaks ethic is an end to secret files and letting transparency enable full discussion of any topic. Snowden made it clear in his earliest interviews with Glenn Greenwald he distinguished between legitimate confidential files and information that was classified just to keep Americans from knowing what their government was doing.
Regardless, his return would be a courageous move in the face of nutball rightwingers within and without our government.