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Snowden no traitor, says father

The father of US NSA secrets leaker Edward Snowden has acknowledged that his son broke the law but does not 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 television's Today show.

Mr Snowden said his lawyer 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."

Edward Snowden is charged with violating US espionage laws for leaking information about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

He is expected to seek asylum in Ecuador. He flew from Hong Kong to Moscow but mystery surrounded his whereabouts after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport. Mr Putin said he had not passed through immigration and was free to go where he liked.

Hordes of journalists armed with laptops and photo and video cameras have camped in and around the airport, looking for him.

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