In an interview with NBC, Lonnie Snowden expressed hopes that his son would return to the US, provided that the Justice Department plays ball. Meanwhile, Ecuador has unilaterally renounced trade agreements with the US in defiance of demands that the small South American country not accept Mr. Snowden, and Russia’s Federation Council has invited him to testify as to the extent of NSA spying on Russian citizens.
For almost a week now, Snowden has been thought to be stowed away somewhere in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, after having fled Hong Kong last week. Snowden is wanted by the US on charges of espionage and attempts to have him extradited have failed so far.
Snowden’s father appeared in an interview on NBC’s “Today Show” this morning, claiming that he believes his son would willingly return to the US if certain conditions were met, reports the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Those conditions include allowing Snowden to choose the trial location, not subjecting him to a gag order, and not detaining him pre-trial.
In an effort to have these conditions met, Snowden’s father has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to convey these conditions and his hopes that they would provide incentive for Snowden to return, writes the New York Daily News.
Snowden Sr., who has not spoken to his son since April, also took the opportunity to defend his son’s honor, reports Reuters:
"I love him. I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him. I don't want to put him in peril," he said in the interview.
Snowden said he did not think his son had committed treason, even though his son broke US laws in releasing details about the federal monitoring programs.
"He has betrayed his government, but I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States," he said.
The Russian option
In Russia, the Federation Council – the Duma’s upper house – has set up a special committee to investigate aspects of the NSA’s spying activities in Russia, and has invited Snowden to testify before them. As The Christian Science Monitor reports, the committee would like Snowden to inform it of the extent to which large Internet companies such as Google and Facebook are involved.
"We don't want to get involved in secret service conspiracies. Whatever the NSA was doing is not particularly our concern," [Sen. Ruslan] Gattarov [head of the committee] says.
At the same time, the Snowden issue has caused US relations with Ecuador to deteriorate. Snowden is currently applying for asylum in Ecuador, a decision that could take up to two months, according to The Christian Science Monitor. In response, there have been calls in the US to cut off aid to Ecuador.
Ecuador, it seems, has not taken those threats lightly, and has unilaterally broken off a preferential trade agreement with the US in order to prevent “blackmail” over the asylum request, reports CNN:
"In the face of threats, insolence, and arrogance of certain US sectors, which have pressured to remove the preferential tariffs because of the Snowden case, Ecuador tells the world we unilaterally and irrevocably renounce the preferential tariffs," President Rafael Correa said Thursday, reiterating comments other officials from his government made earlier in the day.
But Mr. Correa, who has a history of thumbing his nose at the US, also noted that despite its support for Snowden, Ecuador cannot come to a decision on his asylum request, as he is not on Ecuadorian territory, according to Al Jazeera. "You request asylum when you are on a country's territory. Snowden is not on Ecuadorean territory, so technically we cannot even process the asylum request," Correa said.