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Edward Snowden's father mulls Russia visit

Father of ex-US spy agency worker wanted for leaking surveillance programme says he has been asked by FBI to visit him.

Last Modified: 31 Jul 2013 13:26
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Snowden's controversial leaks have resulted in some calling him a hero, while others described him as a traitor

The father of Edward Snowden, a former US spy agency employee who leaked the country's confidential surveillance programme, has said he is willing to agree to a request by the FBI to fly to Moscow to see his son, but that he needs  to know first what the security service wants.

Lonnie Snowden told state-owned Russian 24 television on Wednesday that the FBI had suggested a "few weeks ago" that he should travel to Moscow to talk to his son, who faces espionage charges in the United States and is currently seeking asylum in Russia.

Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency leaked the surveillance programme in June in an interview with the British newspaper Guardian, sparking a firestorm of criticism against the US government's intrusion into private lives.

He has been holed up in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since arriving from Hong Kong more than a month ago.

His father has had no direct contact with him.

"I received this suggestion [from the FBI to travel to Moscow] a few weeks ago, and I have yet to decline it," Lonnie Snowden said. 

He said he believed his 30-year-old son, who applied for temporary asylum in Russia after the cancellation of his travel documents meant he was unable to travel on to a preferred destination in Latin America, was better off in Moscow.

"If he wants to spend the rest of his life in Russia, I would agree. I am not against it," he said. "If I were in his place, I would stay in Russia, and I hope that Russia will accept him."

Lonnie Snowden again said he did not think his son would get a fair trial in the United States because of "what happened in the last 5-6 weeks".

"I hope that he will return home and appear in court. But I don't expect that a court would be fair. We cannot guarantee a fair court."

Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer helping Edward Snowden, told the Russian TV programme he thought his asylum request would be granted "in the coming days", and that the United States had failed to send an official extradition request.

"If you want [to have Snowden handed over], you should adhere to the law, so send, according to existing rules of cooperation between states, a corresponding legal document, correctly filled out. But there is no such thing," said Kucherena, a lawyer who is close to the Kremlin.

"Just saying 'hand him over' is absolutely dishonourable and incorrect."

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