In a letter released Friday, Snowden’s father called on President Barack Obama to order Holder to dismiss the criminal complaint filed against his son. Lon Snowden defended his son’s actions, comparing them to acts of civil disobedience. “We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward,” the letter said.
The US attorney general Eric Holder, in the mean time, had told his Russian counterpart this week that the charges faced by Snowden do not carry the death penalty. Holder added that the US “would not seek the death penalty even if Snowden were charged with additional, death penalty-eligible crimes”.
Holder had also sent a letter to Alexander Vladimirovich, Russia’s minister of justice, in response to reports that Snowden had applied for temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty. “These claims are entirely without merit,” Holder said in the letter. In addition to his assurance that Snowden would not face capital punishment, the attorney general wrote: “Torture is unlawful in the United States.” He said further that despite Snowden’s passport being revoked he remains a US citizen so the US would facilitate a direct return to the country.
Lon Snowden said on NBC’s “Today” that Snowden did the right thing by leaking U.S. intelligence and helping Americans see the truth. “I think my son, when he takes his final breath, whether it’s today or 100 years from now, will be comfortable with what he did,” he said. “He did what he knew was right. He shared the truth with the American people. What we choose to do with it is up to us as a people.” Lon Snowden expressed his disappointment with the recent House vote that continued funding for the spy program that Edward Snowden exposed.
There is a need for a strong intelligence community, Lon Snowden said, but many who voted for continued funding for the program are really looking out for the special interests that will benefit. “It’s all about the money,” he said. The father said he has not been in direct contact with his son, but there has been indirect contact through intermediaries. The intermediaries, as CNN said, do not include WikiLeaks, but Lon added: “I’m thankful for anybody at this point that is providing him with assistance to keep him safe and secure.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, on the other hand, said Russia’s FSB and its US counterpart, the FBI, were in talks over Snowden’s fate. A US Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to Snowden. Russian President Vladimir Putin had expressed strong determination not to let relations suffer over the dispute no matter how the situation develops.
But “President Vladimir Putin also has reiterated Moscow’s stance that Russia did not hand over, does not hand over and will not hand over anybody,” said The Independence. Putin, a former KGB spy, has said Snowden could only be granted sanctuary in Russia if he stopped actions that could harm the United States. A Russian security expert said the talks may be about how to secure assurances he will not leak further information if he were granted sanctuary in Russia.