Edward J. Snowden's father Lon (shown in photo) and the Snowden family lawyer said Sunday that they will soon be going to Moscow to see the fugitive whistleblower and his Russian attorney. Lon Snowden also said he would urge his son to come home and face trial if the American system of justice "is going to be applied correctly."
"I believe that the truth will shine through," Lon Snowden said in an exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program This Week. The father of the 30-year-old systems analyst who revealed the vast data collection of private communications by the National Security Agency bluntly challenged comments President Obama made in his news conference last Friday — including most emphatically that the younger Snowden was not a patriot in leaking classified documents to The Guardian of London and the Washington Post. The elder Snowden countered by quoting a definition of patriotism by one of the intellectual leaders of colonial America's struggle for independence.
"It was the voice of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, who said it was someone who saves his country from his government," Snowden said.
Snowden appeared alongside constitutional and international law attorney Bruce Fein, but Snowden did most of the talking, even in defending his son on points of law. He rebuked Stephanopoulos rather sharply when the This Week host stated matter of factly that "It does appear that [Edward Snowden] broke the law."
"That's simply irresponsible to suggest before a trial someone broke the law," Snowden said, adding that it "may well be that what he disclosed is protected by the First Amendment."
Federal prosecutors in June charged Edward Snowden with theft of government property, and with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 — "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and willfully disclosing classified communications intelligence "to an unauthorized person." Fein said he is seeking additional legal help for the defense in the person of someone with experience in espionage cases. Such lawyers are rare because there have been very few espionage cases brought since the Espionage Act was passed during World War I. Fein also said he had been in touch with Edward Snowden's Russian attorney and has been assured that the U.S. fugitive is safe there.
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Frame grab of Lon Snowden taken from Rossiya 24 channel during an interview: AP Images