THE FATHER OF fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has obtained a visa to visit his son in Russia.
The family’s lawyer Bruce Fein confirmed that he and Lon Snowden will visit Russia “very soon”, but would not say exactly when.
“We have visas. We have a date which we won’t discuss because of the frenzy,” Fein said on ABC television’s program “This Week”.
Lon Snowden said on the same programme that he has not spoken to his son since he fled the United States.
Edward Snowden, a 30-year-old former National Security Agency computer administrator, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after leaking details of vast US telephone and Internet surveillance programs.
Lon Snowden said he wants his son to return to America at some point but right now does not think he would get a fair trial, as many lawmakers and members of the public have branded Snowden a traitor.
“If you consider the statements by the leaders in Congress, they are irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice. They have poisoned the well in terms of a jury pool,” he said.
He added: “Where my son chooses to live the rest of his life is his decision. But I would like for him to be able to come back to the US.”
Russia recently granted Snowden a year’s asylum after he spent weeks marooned at a Moscow airport.
The decision angered the US and was cited by Washington as one of the reasons for postponing a summit scheduled for next month between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
In response to the public outcry over the NSA spying programs, including by some legislators in his own Democratic Party, Obama on Friday unveiled measures to allow for more oversight of and transparency in the surveillance, which the Obama administration insists is essential to preventing terrorist attacks.
Snowden’s father told ABC’s This Week that Obama was “driven by his clear understanding that the American people are unhappy with what they’ve learned and more is forthcoming”.
Asked about his son’s condition, Lon Snowden said he has been told by their Russian attorney that he is safe.
“He obviously is exhausted. But he’s now needing a period of time where he can recoup his energy level and reflect on what he wishes to do going forward.”