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Snowden's father says former contractor may return if conditions met

Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen during a news broadcast on a screen at a shopping mall in
Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen during a news broadcast on a screen at a shopping mall in

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The father of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden said in an interview that while he has not had recent contact with him, he is reasonably confident his son would return to the United States if certain conditions were met.

Those conditions could include not detaining Snowden before trial, not subjecting him to a gag order and letting him choose the location of his trial, NBC News said on Friday.

The NBC report added that Lonnie Snowden plans to make those points in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to be sent through his lawyer later on Friday. Representatives for the Justice Department could not be reached immediately for comment on the letter.

Lonnie Snowden, in part of the NBC interview that aired on the "Today Show," also said he is concerned that his son, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, was being manipulated by others, including people from the anti-government secrecy group WikiLeaks.

"I am concerned about those who surround him," he told NBC. "Wikileaks - if you look at past history - their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible. So that alone is a concern for me."

Edward Snowden, an American, fled the United States to Hong Kong in May, a few weeks before publication in the Guardian and the Washington Post of details he said he provided about secret U.S. government surveillance of Internet and phone traffic.

He faces espionage charges in the United States and has requested political asylum in Ecuador. He has not been seen since he arrived in Moscow on Sunday, but Russian officials said he was in a transit area at Sheremetyevo airport.

Snowden's father said he has not had contact with his son since April, NBC reported.

"I love him. I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him. I don't want to put him in peril," he said in the interview.

Lonnie Snowden said he did not think his son had committed treason, even though his son broke U.S. laws in releasing details about the federal monitoring programs.

"He has betrayed his government, but I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States," he said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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