The Washington Post

Excerpts from interview with father of Edward Snowden

Lon Snowden says he does not believe his son will ever get fair treatment from the U.S. government for revealing intelligence secrets. He sat down with the Post's Jerry Markon to defend to his son. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

Excerpts from The Washington Post’s interview with Lon Snowden, father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden:

●On Edward’s upbringing:

“He grew up in a wholesome family, a patriotic family, in which he had many relatives who were federal law enforcement officers, military, police officers. So there certainly was a patriotic streak.’’

●On when he first realized that Edward was working for the CIA:

“He was sharing a house with some people in McLean, Va., and I thought, ‘Why is my son living in McLean instead of Ellicott City or Crofton, Md., where most of his family is or had been. I remember we went out for dinner ... I remember suggesting, ‘You’re working for the CIA.’ I could see the stress. He was like, ‘No, don’t ever say that.’ I remember jokingly going, ‘Okay, you’re working for the CIA, smile if you’re lying.’ He did not acknowledge it, but I knew it.”

●On why his son is not a traitor:

“People want to paint him as a spy, as a traitor. Tell me how he has benefitted from this? He has chosen to release information, at great expense and peril to himself, to share with the American people that he believes their constitutional rights are being violated by their government.’’

●On why Edward did not choose the alternative routes of becoming a whistleblower or sharing his concerns with Congress:

“Everyone has suggested why didn’t he use the avenues that were available to him. That is absolutely absurd. ... Let’s imagine that Edward Snowden decided to take time off and get on a flight, landed at Dulles and somehow set up a meeting with them and said, ‘This is what I know.’ What do you think the outcome would have been? I am reasonably certain his career would have been over. But I am absolutely certain that this information would not have been revealed to the American people. We would not be having this dialogue now.’’

●On why he hasn’t spoken to his son:

“If I wanted to speak to my son, I could. I am technologically sophisticated enough, that if I needed to, I could do that. ... It’s a matter of keeping your eye on the ball. If there is value in doing that, if I was concerned that my son was not in good health, that he was being abused, then maybe I would pursue that.’’

●On why he no longer wants his son to come back to the United States to face trial and would prefer that Edward stay in Russia:

“It is simply the behavior of our government. I have lost confidence that they are operating in good faith. Where, at this point, unless someone has been living in a cave or doesn’t have a TV, can my son get a fair trial? ... Make mo mistake, they are speaking to the jury pool, the American people. ‘He’s a traitor, he’s guilty of this, he’s guilty of that.’ It’s horrendous what they have done.’’

●On what he told FBI agents when they interviewed him for four hours at his home less than two days after Edward’s unmasking:

“Everything I could possibly think of, I shared with the FBI ... I shared everything in terms of family background. I was assured that it would be on Barack Obama’s desk by 11 p.m. and that he would have that information, including that my son had a twice-tested IQ in excess of 140. And I can tell you that I’m being conservative.’’

Jerry Markon covers the Department of Homeland Security for the Post’s National Desk. He also serves as lead Web and newspaper writer for major breaking national news.

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