As he prepares to visit his son in Russia, Lon Snowden on Sunday blasted President Obama and congressional leaders for failing to take real action to curb federal mass surveillance and data-collection efforts.
“What I’ve seen is much political theater. I was disappointed in the president’s press conference. I believe that’s driven by his clear understanding that the American people are absolutely unhappy with what they learned … much of what he suggested is superficial,” Lon Snowden, father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, said in a rare interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Not long after Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, Mr. Obama on Friday proposed a slate of reforms to government surveillance efforts, though privacy advocates and others believe the steps fall far short of what’s needed.
Meanwhile, Lon Snowden and his attorney, Bruce Fein, have secured travel visas and plan to visit Edward Snowden in Russia very soon. They would not disclose an exact date.
Edward Snowden has been cast as a traitor by members of Congress, such as Republican Rep. Peter King. Mr. Obama on Friday rejected the assertion that Edward Snowden is a patriot.
But Lon Snowden argues that his son has done more for his country than the president or leading lawmakers.
“My son has spoken the truth. He has sacrificed more than either the president of the United Stated or Peter King have ever [sacrificed] in their political careers or their American lives,” he said.
While Lon Snowden said he isn’t open to a plea deal with the Justice Department — which has charged Edward Snowden with espionage and other crimes — he does hope that, at some point, his son can return home to the U.S. He also said he would like to see his son’s alleged crimes, and the information he revealed, “vetted in open court for the American people to have all the facts.”
Edward Snowden clearly believed his only course of action was to release sensitive information to the press, but some believe he could have come to Congress, instead.
“I believe he would’ve gotten a fair hearing” before Congress,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I don’t think he needed to undermine America’s national security to pursue whatever he thought his conscience led him to do,” Mr. Menendez added, also speaking on “This Week.”
Should he eventually return to the U.S., Edward Snowden would get his day in court, said Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I think he could get a fair trial in the United States,” Mr. Royce said.