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Snowden's father gets visa to travel to Russia

Edward Snowden's father now has his travel visa to Russia. The elder Snowden intends to help his son find the best legal defense in a widely followed scandal which has drawn the ire of the US government.

During a television appearance on Sunday, Lon Snowden and his attorney Bruce Fein confirmed they had received permission to enter Russia. However, neither revealed when they intended to travel to visit Edward Snowden.

"We have visas. We have a date, which we won't disclose right now because of the frenzy [over the affair]," attorney Bruce Fein said on Sunday during an interview on the US ABC news program "This Week."

"We intend to visit Edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have got experience in Espionage Act prosecutions," Fein added.

The US government filed several charges against the former NSA contractor, including espionage, shortly after he revealed classified information about a massive surveillance program known as PRISM to the The Guardian newspaper.

Russia granted the whistle-blower temporary asylum set to expire in August 2014 after several weeks of resisting pressure from Washington to extradite him so that he could face trial.

The decision to provide safe haven to the 30-year-old fugitive has strained already tense relations between President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. In addition to cancelling an upcoming meeting with Putin in Moscow, Obama has said the most recent disagreement has caused him to reevaluate US-Russia relations.

No deals, only justice

Lon Snowden criticized President Obama's recent pledge to create a more transparent surveillance program in order to regain public trust as "superficial" and part of the larger "political theater" permeating the scandal. He added that he would discourage his son from accepting any plea deal with the US.

"As a father, I want my son to come home if I believe that the justice system that we should be afforded as Americans is going to be applied correctly," Lon Snowden said on "This Week."

Snowden's fate has captured worldwide attention in part due to his decision to leak more information to The Guardian, as well as to the nearly five-week long media watch at a Moscow airport, where he remained stuck after the US voided his passport.

Lon Snowden said the coverage of his son's case would be a contributing factor in what he anticipated as an unfair trial.

"When you consider many of the statements made by our leaders ... they are absolutely irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice," he said. "They have poisoned the well, so to speak, in terms of a potential jury pool."

"The only deal will be true justice," Snowden said.

kms/mr (Reuters, dpa)