Edward Snowden’s dad Lonnie Snowden appeared this morning on Today, saying his son is not a traitor, but admitting he may have broken laws in releasing classified information.
The elder Snowden has given interviews before begging Edward to return to the US after the NSA leaks controversy broke, and as Ecuador offered safe passage to the 29-year-old contractor, Lonnie Snowden spoke to NBC’s Michael Isikoff about claims his son betrayed his country.
Snowden said Edward may have crossed the government, but not the citizens in his estimation:
“At this point I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has in fact broken U.S. law, in a sense that he has released classified information… And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States. ”
While the elder Snowden has worried about his son’s general safety, he also appears to be concerned about the advice Edward is getting from fellow and more seasoned leakers.
Wikileaks has been a strong and vocal supporter of Edward Snowden as reports have emerged suggesting he harmed US counterterrorism efforts, and his father worries that the organization may be more of a detriment than a savior for the young leaker:
“I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him… I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history, you know, their focus isn’t necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible.”
NBC reports that Snowden says he told Attorney General Eric Holder Edward will return to the US willingly under a certain set of conditions.
Lonnie Snowden says son Edward would prefer to not be held before a trial, not be subject to a gag order, and would like to select the venue for any trial that would take place.