About the Show

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

We've moved! Come join us at our new show page.

We've moved! Come join us at our new show page.

July 30th, 2013
06:35 PM ET

Edward Snowden's dad speaks out on Manning case

(CNN) – Guilty findings against Bradley Manning over the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history do not bode well for Edward Snowden, who admittedly divulged top secret NSA surveillance information to the media, Snowden’s father says.

If Snowden heard about the judge’s verdict at Manning’s court martial on Tuesday it was probably in Russian and on a TV at the Moscow airport, where the former contractor has been in limbo for more than a month since fleeing Hong Kong.

Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges he faced and was convicted on most of the others following trial. He was acquitted of the most serious count – aiding the enemy – but still faces the possibility of substantial jail time.

Lon Snowden said he does not believe his son "could get a fair trial in the U.S., absolutely not."

He was also quick to underline the differences between his son's case and Manning's.

"My son has exercised discretion in the information that he has shared," said Snowden, echoing what his son has said in the past.

Manning turned over a trove of classified data to WikiLeaks while serving in Iraq. Snowden claims he only leaked information about telephone and e-mail surveillance he deemed to be a violation of the Constitution.

Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act; Snowden has been charged with espionage. Manning said he was troubled by how the United States was prosecuting the Iraq War.

Asked if he believes his son did anything illegal, Lon Snowden compared his son's actions to those of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., saying that King's "I Have A Dream" speech reminded Americans that the American government was not obeying the U.S. Constitution, and that segregation laws were unconstitutional.

"Did my son face a moral hazard in which he had to make a choice between doing something that was unconstitutional, spying on the American people, unethical?" Lon Snowden asked. "And did he face the moral hazard of having to continue to do that day in, day out with a big paycheck, and knowing that our government was violating the constitutional rights of over 300 million Americans?"

The father had a message for his son.

"Stay safe, stay secure, and I hope he does in fact find refuge in Russia until we are confident that he can receive a fair trial back on U.S. soil," Snowden said, though he added that he is "not confident at all" that his son will receive such a trial.

"We have attempted to work with the Justice Department and the people who are conducting this investigation. And I have lost faith in their interest in ensuring that he is given a fair trial," said Snowden's father.

"The focus is to bring him back in and prosecute him to the fullest. The focus is not justice. It's to prosecute him," said Lon Snowden.

Snowden’s father had a message for Obama, too.

"Stay true to your oath. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of your ability. That is the top line of your job description," he said.

"As an American citizen is I expect to you respect my constitutional rights 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's your job as the president of the United States," said Lon Snowden.

Posted by ,
Filed under: National Lead
soundoff (No Responses)

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.