US Gov Says Snowden Father Free to Visit Son

The US government has given assurances that Lon Snowden, father of the fugitive ex-National Security Agency intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden will not be prosecuted if he visits his son, who is sheltering in Russia.
State department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf told reporters Monday that she was not aware of any problems Lon might face if he visited his son.
Asked if Lon Snowden’s visit to a wanted person might impact on his passport, Harf said: “The answer is: I dont know. But our focus isn’t on Snowden’s father; it’s on him. He’s the one thats been charged with very serious crimes, and he’s the one that needs to return to the U.S. to face those crimes as soon as possible.”
Lon Snowden revealed at the weekend that he had obtained a Russian visa and would soon travel to Moscow to see his son and persuade him to return.
The Obama administration has, however, come under fire for raising hopes that Russia would turn Snowden over.
Former US ambassador to Ukraine and director of the Brookings Institution’s arms control initiative, Steven Pifer, says “Washington forgot the rules of the game for such cases”.
“However Snowden may be regarded by the West, the Kremlin groups him with defectors. If they sent Snowden back to U.S. custody, the message to potential defectors would be clear: Moscow sent Snowden back. Putin spent years as a KGB officer and understands all too well that that message would discourage anyone with intelligence value who might in the future think about defecting to Russia,” Pifer wrote on the Brookings website. His article is entitled, “Edward Snowden: A Case Study in Diplomatic Mismanagement”.
“It is dubious diplomatic practice to ask the other side to do something when the answer definitely will be ‘no’ and when, if the situation were reversed your answer definitely would be ‘no’,” said Pifer. “The U.S. government would never seriously consider returning Alexander Poteyev, a former Russian intelligence officer whose revelations to U.S. authorities included Anna Chapman and nine other sleeper agents arrested by the FBI and deported in 2010, or any other Russian defector.”
Secretary of state John Kerry confirmed Monday that Colombian government officials had asked him to explain the controversial programme to spy on the phone calls and emails of foreign and domestic officials.

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