Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is better off staying in Russia, his father said on Friday.
No longer believing that Snowden would receive a fair legal trial by the Justice Department, Lon Snowden — Edward Snowden’s father — decided it was best for his son to stay away from the U.S. “until an administration that respects the Constitution comes into office,” the Associated Press reports.
Despite not having any contact with him since he left the country, the elder Snowden has publicly advocated on behalf of his son since first unveiled himself as the source of the recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s phone and Internet surveillance programs.
Snowden was charged by a federal court in Alexandria for theft of government property and espionage in June.
Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov promising that the U.S. would “not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional, death penalty-eligible crimes.”
Holder also said that Snowden would not be tortured in the United States.
Whistle-blowers who exposed the first facets of the NSA’s secret surveillance regime under the Bush Administration — former NSA employees William Binney, Thomas Drake, and J. Kirk Wiebe — have also been openly supportive of Snowden, his decision to disclose the information that he did, and his choice to run from the U.S. government.
At a conference hosted by the Government Accountability Project at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Binney, Drake, and Wiebe stated that Snowden decided to flee the country because he saw the way the U.S. government persecuted them for speaking out against unconstitutional domestic surveillance.
“But all of that was done just to keep us quiet, and that’s what Snowden saw about us, and saw about Tom and also Bradley Manning, and so he felt his only option was to leave the country,” said Binney.
“I don’t blame him, you know, for what this government is doing to the people, I don’t blame him,” said Binney
“Under the National Defense Authorization Act, his chances of remaining free in the United States would have been extremely short in duration,” said Drake.
Drake, at July 4th rally promoting the restoration of the Fourth Amendment, called for a “new American revolution declaring our independence from the surveillance state and government control of information.”
“There is no question they would have yanked him off the street, and at a minimum arrested him,” Drake said.
“His only chance for freedom, as difficult as it is, and it continues to be difficult in terms of where can he find himself going,” said Drake, “was to escape the United States of America.”