Edward Snowden's father: 'I know my son. I know he loves his country'
July 30, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
- Lon Snowden defends his son, who is holed up in the Moscow airport
- He urges him to stay in Russia "until we have assurances that he would receive a fair trial"
- "It's not just a matter of what's legal ... It's a matter of what's ethical," he tells CNN
(CNN) -- Edward Snowden's father defended his son's actions Monday and slammed those who would focus on the "sinner" rather than the "sins" the younger Snowden revealed.
"He loves his country. I know my son. I know he loves his country. What he believed is that ... the American people needed to be aware of what their government was doing to them, spying upon them," Lon Snowden told CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night.
Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, faces espionage charges in the United States.
He is currently holed up in the Moscow airport, where he's been confined for weeks.
Snowden: Facts, fictions and fears
Lon Snowden said that he's been able to communicate with his son indirectly and that he believes he's in reasonably good spirits.
He urged his son to remain in Russia "until we have assurances that he would receive a fair trial."
Snowden continues to wait for asylum
U.S.: No death penalty for Snowden
"There has been a clear effort by those who have been threatened politically and/or embarrassed by these revelations to focus on the, so to speak, sinner -- my son who has revealed these -- instead of the sins, the actual revelations. It's clear they don't want to discuss that," Lon Snowden said.
Snowden did not access 'crown jewels' of NSA intel, official says
His son is seeking asylum because he claims he would be tortured and face the death penalty if returned to the United States.
In a letter to Russian authorities last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the Justice Department would not seek the death penalty. He argued that Snowden's arguments for temporary asylum in Russia are without merit.
The death penalty is not an option given the current charges against Snowden, and even if additional charges were filed, the United States would still not seek capital punishment, Holder wrote.
Snowden's father has called on President Barack Obama to order the attorney general to dismiss the criminal complaint filed against his son.
"Our national character, much as with individuals, is determined by what we do when we think that no one is watching, when we think that we won't be held accountable. And it's not just a matter of what's legal, of what's constitutional. It's a matter of what's ethical," Lon Snowden told CNN.
Last month his son admitted to revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media. He left Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23.
CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.
Watch Anderson Cooper
360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.
Part of complete coverage on
Data mining & privacy
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
He's a high-school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
What are the takeaways from Snowden's NBC interview? You might be surprised.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Months after accepting asylum in Russia, Snowden asked Putin about Moscow's own surveillance practices.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
A federal judge has refused the Obama administration's request to extend storage of classified NSA telephone surveillance data beyond the current five-year limit.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0044 GMT (0844 HKT)
From his sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange said that everyone in the world will be just as effectively monitored soon -- at least digitally.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
In a rare public talk via the Web, fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden urged a tech conference audience to help "fix" the U.S. government's surveillance of its citizens.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 0355 GMT (1155 HKT)
The White House is "very disappointed" that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
Spies with surveillance agencies in the U.S. and U.K. infiltrated video games like "World of Warcraft" in a hunt for terrorists "hiding in plain sight" online.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1139 GMT (1939 HKT)
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden both held jobs that gave them access to some of their country's most secret and sensitive intelligence. They chose to share that material with the world and are now paying for it.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
The NSA's controversial intelligence-gathering programs have prevented 54 terrorist attacks around the world, including 13 in the United States.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
You've never heard of XKeyscore, but it definitely knows you. The National Security Agency's top-secret program essentially makes available everything you've ever done on the Internet.
August 18, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
You may have never heard of Lavabit and Silent Circle. That's because they offered encrypted (secure) e-mail services, something most Americans have probably never thought about needing.
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere ... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone."
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
President Barack Obama responds to outrage by European leaders over revelations of alleged U.S. spying.
April 1, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
Browse through a history of high-profile intelligence leaking cases.
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Former President George W. Bush talks Snowden, AIDS, Mandela and his legacy.
June 26, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Edward Snowden took a job with an NSA contractor in order to gather evidence about U.S. surveillance programs.
June 19, 2013 -- Updated 1047 GMT (1847 HKT)
With reports of NSA snooping, many people have started wondering about their personl internet security.
August 14, 2013 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Click through our gallery to learn about other major leaks and what happened in the aftermath.
June 9, 2013 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
What really goes on inside America's most secretive agency? CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
Today's five most popular stories