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Report: FBI wanted to fly Edward Snowden's father to Moscow

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
July 31, 2013 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Edward Snowden acted out of patriotism, his father tells The Washington Post
  • Report: Lon Snowden said he did not fly to Russia because he doubted he'd be able to speak to his son
  • Lon Snowden wants his son to stay in Moscow for now
  • He is 'not confident' his son would receive a fair trial in the U.S.

(CNN) -- The FBI planned to fly Edward Snowden's father to Moscow to encourage the National Security Agency leaker to come home to the United States, his father told The Washington Post.

But Lon Snowden said he backed out, because it was not clear he would be able to speak to his son.

Interactive: Snowden's options

"I said, 'I want to be able to speak with my son. . . . Can you set up communications?' And it was, 'Well, we're not sure,' " the father told the newspaper Tuesday. "I said, 'Wait a minute, folks, I'm not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.'"

Lon Snowden spoke to CNN on Monday and Tuesday, but did not bring up this incident.

Snowden's situation

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Tuesday, the father said he wants the accused leaker to stay in Russia, until he is confident he can get a fair trial in the United States.

Snowden's father: 'I know my son. I know he loves his country

A tale of two accused leakers
John Walker ran a father and son spy ring, passing classified material to the Soviet Union from 1967 to 1985. Walker was a Navy communication specialist with financial difficulties when he walked into the Soviet Embassy and sold a piece of cyphering equipment. Navy and Defense officials said that Walker enabled the Soviet Union to unscramble military communications and pinpoint the location of U.S. submarines at all times. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors promised leniency for Walker's son Michael Walker, a former Navy seaman. Click through the gallery to see other high-profile leak scandals the United States has seen over the years. John Walker ran a father and son spy ring, passing classified material to the Soviet Union from 1967 to 1985. Walker was a Navy communication specialist with financial difficulties when he walked into the Soviet Embassy and sold a piece of cyphering equipment. Navy and Defense officials said that Walker enabled the Soviet Union to unscramble military communications and pinpoint the location of U.S. submarines at all times. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors promised leniency for Walker's son Michael Walker, a former Navy seaman. Click through the gallery to see other high-profile leak scandals the United States has seen over the years.
Sharing secrets: U.S. intelligence leaks
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Former intelligence worker Edward Snowden revealed himself as the source of documents outlining a massive effort by the NSA to track cell phone calls and monitor the e-mail and Internet traffic of virtually all Americans. He says he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing. "Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded," he said. Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after initially fleeing to Hong Kong. He has been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act, over the leaks. Former intelligence worker Edward Snowden revealed himself as the source of documents outlining a massive effort by the NSA to track cell phone calls and monitor the e-mail and Internet traffic of virtually all Americans. He says he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing. "Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded," he said. Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after initially fleeing to Hong Kong. He has been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act, over the leaks.
Notable leakers and whistle-blowers
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"I am not confident at all," Lon Snowden said.

The multiple guilty verdicts handed to leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning on Tuesday increased his unease, although he says his son's case is "completely different."

"I think my son has exercised discretion in the information that he has shared," he said.

Edward Snowden admires Manning, his father said.

"He's an individual who took a stand."

Snowden a patriot?

Edward Snowden, a former employee of a government contractor, leaked to the media that the NSA had secretly collected and stored millions of phone records from accounts in the United States. It also collected information from U.S. companies on the Internet activity of overseas residents, Snowden said.

Lawmakers in Washington have built a criminal case against him.

Snowden's lawyer, Bruce Fein, who also appeared in the interview with Tapper, objected to the government's intent to prosecute Snowden.

"The majority of the American people now have voiced grave concerns about the scope of that program. And it seems somewhat odd to be prosecuting somebody for disclosing government wrongdoing."

Snowden -- facts, fictions and fears

He said that Snowden had the courage to spark a conversation that President Barack Obama has called "urgent."

Fein believes it would be impossible to find an "unpoisoned jury" to try his client given the heavy media coverage.

He lambasted Washington politicians for speaking of Snowden as if he were guilty, trampling on his right to be considered not guilty until proven otherwise.

Lon Snowden told the Post that his son grew up in a patriotic family. Many of his relatives had served in the military or police forces. Lon Snowden said he served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

His son acted out of patriotism, he said, knowing that he would suffer personally for his decision to protect Americans' constitutional rights to privacy.

Lon Snowden told Tapper that he expects Obama to do the same.

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