Snowden's father gets visa, to leave for Russia 'soon'

WASHINGTON Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:32pm EDT

Lon Snowden, the father of fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, is interviewed by Reuters in Washington August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Lon Snowden, the father of fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, is interviewed by Reuters in Washington August 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The father of Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor, has received a Russian visa and will travel there shortly to see his son, he and his lawyer said on Sunday.

Attorney Bruce Fein said in a television appearance that he and Lon Snowden were skeptical about President Barack Obama's pledge to limit government surveillance programs, and they remain doubtful that young Snowden can receive a fair trial in the United States.

"We have visas. We have a date, which we won't disclose right now because of the frenzy" over the affair, Fein told the ABC News program "This Week," on which they both appeared. They will travel to Russia "very soon," he said.

"We intend to visit with Edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have got experience in Espionage Act prosecutions," Fein said.

Lon Snowden told a reporter outside his home in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, that he "absolutely" had received his visa, but had not yet set a date for the trip to Russia to see his son.

The younger Snowden was stuck at a Moscow airport for more than five weeks before Russia granted him a year's asylum on August 1.

Lon Snowden told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that he has not spoken to his son since the former National Security Agency contractor left the United States for Hong Kong, just before news broke in June of the disclosures he made about the U.S. surveillance programs.

On Sunday, the elder Snowden criticized the Obama administration's handling of his son's case and dismissed the president's vow on Friday to improve oversight of surveillance, transparency and other efforts to restore public trust in the government's programs.

"I believe much of what he suggested is superficial," Lon Snowden said on ABC.

PUBLIC CRITICISM

Snowden's father added that he is "not open" to a plea deal that would allow his 30-year-old son to return to the United States.

"The only deal will be true justice," he said, repeating his concern that his son won't be treated well because his right to a fair trial has been compromised by public criticism by U.S. officials.

"When you consider many of the statements made by our leaders, leaders in Congress, they are absolutely irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice," said Snowden.

"They have poisoned the well, so to speak, in terms of a potential jury pool," he said.

Washington's inability to persuade Russia to return Snowden to the United States has curdled U.S. relations with Russia. Obama canceled a planned summit in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, although the two countries held high-level political and defense talks in Washington on Friday.

A senior U.S. lawmaker from Obama's Democratic Party told the ABC program that it seemed Washington was more interested than Putin in forging a productive relationship.

"It seems to me that as we've tried to restart this relationship several times, that maybe now is a moment to pause and think about how we're going to move forward with Russia," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez told ABC.

Putin's government is "unresponsive" to U.S. concerns about issues such as the civil war in Syria, nuclear disarmament and draconian Russian legislation against gays and lesbians, said Menendez.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert and Joe McDonald in Allentown; Editing by Philip Barbara)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (32)
unionwv wrote:
“Putin’s government is ‘unresponsive’ to U.S. concerns about issues such as the civil war in Syria, nuclear disarmament and draconian Russian legislation against gays and lesbians, said Menendez(D).”

Do tell. I guess Menendez would be “responsive” to requests for cooperation from the Russians, if they were to propose arming the rebels in Brazil or placing anti-missile weapons in Cuba.

Aug 11, 2013 12:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BraveNewWrld wrote:
>nuclear disarmament and draconian Russian legislation against gays and lesbians, said Menendez.

OK, I understand the nuclear disarmament thing. It is quite obvious that being outmatched by factor 10 or so in terms of conventional weapons, russians rely on their total nuclear destruction capability to back the independent policies they have. Evidently, would they be trying to land not Morales’s but Putin’s presidential aircraft, fighter jets engaged in a hostile action would highly likely have no place to return after their “mission accomplished”. So the issue seems really quite simple.

Now, can anybody explain me what is the issue with “draconian Russian legislation against gays and lesbians”? I mean – factually, explaining what does that legislation say, and what is there draconian about it? I have no opinion on that since I do not know the content of the issue. Could somebody who knows what that legislation says explain? But, please, factually, without propagandist bombarding with buzzphrases and empty cliches – Menendez and others have already taken care of that!

Aug 11, 2013 12:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
Fair Trial? What exactly would that be? Snowden admits he took the job with the express purpose of stealing secret government documents, which he did. By fair trail do they mean one where they simply throw out the laws of the land, declare him a hero and have a ticker tape parade? lmao! This is a family of morons.

Aug 11, 2013 12:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.