The father of Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US spy agency contractor, has received a Russian visa and will travel there shortly to see his son, he and his lawyer said on Sunday.
Bruce Fein said in a television appearance that he and Lon Snowden were skeptical about US President Barack Obama’s pledge to limit government surveillance programs, and they remain doubtful that Edward Snowden could receive a fair trail in the US.
“We have visas. We have a date, which we won’t disclose right now because of the frenzy” over the affair, Fein told the ABC News program This Week, on which they both appeared.
They will travel to Russia “very soon,” he added.
“We intend to visit with Edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have got experience in [US] Espionage Act prosecutions,” Fein said.
Lon Snowden told a reporter outside his home in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, that he “absolutely” had received his visa, but had not yet set a date for the trip to Russia to see his son.
Edward Snowden was stuck at a Moscow airport for more than five weeks before Russia granted him a year’s asylum on Aug. 1.
Lon Snowden told reporters in an interview on Wednesday last week that he has not spoken to his son since the former US National Security Agency contractor left the US for Hong Kong, just before news broke in June of the disclosures he made about the US surveillance programs.
On Sunday, the elder Snowden criticized the Obama administration’s handling of his son’s case and dismissed the president’s vow on Friday to improve oversight of surveillance, transparency and other efforts to restore public trust in the government’s programs.
“I believe much of what he suggested is superficial,” Lon Snowden said on ABC.
Snowden’s father added that he is “not open” to a plea deal that would allow his 30-year-old son to return to the US.
“The only deal will be true justice,” he said, repeating his concern that his son would not be treated well because his right to a fair trial has been compromised by public criticism by US officials.
“When you consider many of the statements made by our leaders, leaders in Congress, they are absolutely irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice,” Lon Snowden said. “They have poisoned the well, so to speak, in terms of a potential jury pool.”
Washington’s inability to persuade Russia to return Edward Snowden has curdled relations with Moscow. Obama canceled a planned Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the two countries held high-level talks in Washington on Friday last week.