WASHINGTON — The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden acknowledged Friday that his son broke the law but doesn't think he committed treason.
"If folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact, he has betrayed his government. But I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States," Lonnie Snowden told NBC's "Today" show.
Snowden said his attorney has informed Attorney General Eric Holder that he believes his son would voluntarily return to the United States if the Justice Department promises not to hold him before trial and not subject him to a gag order, NBC reported.
The elder Snowden hasn't spoken to his son since April, but he said he believes he's being manipulated by people at WikiLeaks. The anti-secrecy group has been trying to help Edward Snowden gain asylum.
"I don't want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him," Lonnie Snowden told NBC. "I think WikiLeaks, if you've looked at past history, you know, their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible."
Lonnie Snowden declined to comment when reached Friday by The Associated Press.
Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia, is charged with violating U.S. espionage laws for leaking information about National Security Agency surveillance programs.