Lonnie Snowden, father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, has offered a deal to the US government that would ensure his son’s return for trial.
The proposal was laid out in a letter, dated Thursday and obtained Friday by CNN’s “Amanpour,” addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and written by Bruce Fein, a Washington-based lawyer for Snowden’s father, Lonnie G. Snowden.
It demands that the former National Security Agency computer contractor who exposed details about U.S. surveillance programs remain free prior to trial; not be subject to a gag order; and be tried in a place of his choosing.
It further demands that, if any of those promises is broken, the prosecution would be dismissed.
“With these written representations and guarantee, Mr. Snowden is reasonably confident that his son could be persuaded to surrender voluntarily to the jurisdiction of the United States to face trial,” Fein wrote.
The Justice Department has no immediate comment.
In comments Friday to NBC News’ “Today,” the elder Snowden said he had not spoken with his son since April.
“I love him, I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him. I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” he said.
Though the 30-year-old man may have betrayed his government, “I don’t believe he has betrayed the people of the United States,” he said.
He expressed concern that his son might have been manipulated by WikiLeaks. “Their focus isn’t necessarily the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “It’s simply to release as much information as possible.”
A day after authorities in Ecuador said they would not bow to U.S. pressure as they weigh Snowden’s request for asylum, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell denied any “bullying” tactics had been used.
“The point is just that we are making a consistent point to any government that might take him as a final destination that this is somebody wanted on serious felony charges and we would like him returned to the United States,” Ventrell told reporters Friday in response to a question from CNN’s Jill Dougherty.
He was referring to his warning Thursday that Ecuador’s economic ties with the United States could be jeopardized.
The idea that the government would allow Edward Snowden to go around giving interviews and making speeches for the months prior to any trial is a fantasy. They may agree to some kind of reasonable bail. But this is a guy who was a fugitive. He’s already shown that he doesn’t need a passport to travel to friendly countries and if things were looking dicey, there’s no reason why he should stick around and spend his life in jail.
There’s zero chance the government will go for this deal. But you feel for the elder Snowden. He’s obviously trying to protect his son but there is precious little he can do. It appears that Mr. Snowden will have to settle for his son being in a safe place, but far away from US authorities who want to prosecute him.