30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden's father gets papers to see son in Russia
Lawyer to travel with fugitive's dad to meet son and discuss how to fight spy charges
The father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has secured documents to visit his son in Russia and plans to discuss how he could fight espionage charges, Lon Snowden and his lawyer said yesterday.
Neither Lon Snowden nor his lawyer Bruce Fein has spoken directly with the former NSA analyst since he fled the United States and received asylum in Russia, they said. But the father and lawyer also said they look forward to meeting with Edward.
Fein said he and Lon Snowden would both visit Russia soon, but would not say when.
"We have a date which we won't discuss because of the frenzy," Fein said on ABC television.
Lon Snowden told the same programme: "As a father, I want my son to come home if I believe that the justice system … is going to be applied correctly."
But the elder Snowden is not convinced his son would get a fair hearing in court, given what he called "absolutely irresponsible" descriptions of his son's actions from President Barack Obama, his administration and top lawmakers from both parties.
"They have poisoned the well, so to speak, in terms of a potential jury pool," said Lon Snowden.
Fein said the family was willing to discuss conditions under which Edward Snowden might return to the US and perhaps face criminal proceedings. Fein added that he plans to "suggest criminal defence attorneys who've got experience with criminal Espionage Act prosecutions" when he meets with Snowden.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Americans owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude because he prompted Obama to promise an overhaul of secret surveillance. "As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur," Assange said in comments published on his Australian website.
"Well, reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude."