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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Snowden\'s Father Hints Son Could Return to Stand Trial if Conditions Are Met

Edward J. Snowden's father told NBC News that his son, the former National Security Agency contractor who is holed up in a Moscow airport without valid travel documents, might agree to return to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges if certain conditions are met.

According to Michael Isikoff, the NBC reporter who interviewed him, Lonnie Snowden has written to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to say he is reasonably confident his son would come home “if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before trial, not to subject him to a gag order and lets him choose where his trial will take place.”

In a portion of Mr. Isikoff's interview broadcast on Friday morning, Lonnie Snowden, who says he has not spoken with his son since April, said that he was “concerned about those who surround him,” specifically advisers from Wikileaks, the antisecrecy organization. “I think Wikileaks, if you've looked at past history, their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States,” Mr. Snowden said. “It's simply to release as much information as possible.”

Lonnie Snowden also insisted that his son, who leaked classified information about the scope of the United States' surveillance efforts to The Guardian and The Washington Post, was not a traitor. “At this point, I don't feel that he has committed treason,” he told Mr. Isikoff. “He has, in fact, broken U.S. law in the sense that he has released classified information, and if folks want to classify him as a traitor - he has betrayed his government; I don't believe that he has betrayed the people of the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that there was dissent inside Ecuador's government over the role played in the Snowden affair by the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for the past year.

According to leaked Ecuadorean diplomatic correspondence obtained by Univision, and reviewed by The Journal, Fidel Narvaez, the consul at Ecuador's London embassy, who has said that he is close to Mr. Assange, issued a temporary travel document intended to help Mr. Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Ecuador via Moscow after his United States passport was revoked.

Officials in Ecuador said on Thursday that the document was invalid, because it was issued without clearance from senior officials by a diplomat who had exceeded his authority. Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, stressed on Thursday that the “Safepass” provided to Mr. Snowden does not permit him to enter any country. “What is the validity of a safe conduct pass issued by a consul in London for someone to leave from Hong Kong to Moscow?” Mr. Correa said. “None.”

One of the leaked e-mails obtained by Univision appears to be an apology from Mr. Assange to the foreign minister of Ecuador for “unwittingly causing Ecuador discomfort in the Snowden matter.”

In another e-mail, a senior diplomat expressed concern that “from outside,” Mr. Assange “appears to be ‘running the show.' ”