Snowden’s father says he may return if conditions met - report

Family concerned son being manipulated by others including people from Wikileaks

Activists in Ukraine  during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of US embassy, in Kiev. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Activists in Ukraine during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of US embassy, in Kiev. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

 

The father of former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden said in an interview he is reasonably confident his son will return to the United States as long as certain conditions are met.

Those conditions could include not detaining Snowden before trial, NBC News said on Friday. The NBC report added that he plans to make that point in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder to be sent through his lawyer later on Friday.

Mr Snowden’s father, in part of the NBC interview that aired on the “Today Show,” also said he is concerned his son was being manipulated by others, including people from WikiLeaks.

Mr Snowden fled the United States to Hong Kong in May, a few weeks before publication in the Guardian and the Washington Post of details he provided about secret US government surveillance of Internet and phone traffic.

Yesterday US president Barack Obama sought to minimize the significance of Mr Snowden wanted for leaking government secrets, calling him a “29-year-old hacker” and suggesting that US frustration with China and Russia for apparently helping him evade extradition was not worth damaging relations with those countries.

Mr Obama’s remarks - his most extensive comments on the fugitive - came as new confusion swirled over Mr Snowden’s ultimate destination, with Ecuador’s government issuing conflicting information over whether it had given him an authorized document of safe passage to travel to that country, where he is seeking asylum.

Mr Snowden, who turned 30 last week, has been ensconced out of sight at a Moscow airport international transit lounge since Sunday, when he arrived from Hong Kong despite a US effort to extradite him on criminal charges. There had been speculation that he would board a Havana-bound flight Thursday but he did not, raising the possibility that his legal limbo could stretch into weeks in his odyssey to reach a third country.

Mr Obama, speaking to reporters in Dakar, Senegal, at the start of a trip to Africa, said he had not called the presidents of China or Russia on the Snowden case, because he did not want to elevate its importance. He said other nations should simply be willing to return Mr Snowden to the United States as a matter of law enforcement.

“This is something that routinely is dealt with,” Mr Obama said. “This is not exceptional from a legal perspective. I’m not going to have one case suddenly being elevated to the point where I have to do wheeling and dealing and trading.” He rejected the suggestion that he might order the military to intercept any plane that might be carrying Mr Snowden. “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama said.

Reuters/NYT

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