By Meghashyam Mali - 08/08/13 10:37 AM EDT
The father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Wednesday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not “cave” to U.S. pressure, a day after President Obama canceled plans to attend a bilateral summit over Moscow’s decision to grant his son asylum.
“President Vladimir Putin has stood firm. I respect strength, and I respect courage,” said Lon Snowden in an interview with Reuters. "He has stood firm against the face of intense pressure from our government, and I have to believe that he will continue to stand firm.
Lon Snowden’s son faces espionage charges in the U.S. after admitting to leaking classified information detailing secret NSA surveillance programs.
The Obama administration had pressured Russia to return Edward Snowden to the U.S. after he fled to Moscow airport to avoid an extradition request, but Moscow last week granted Snowden temporary asylum.
On Tuesday, Obama snubbed Putin, canceling plans to attend a bilateral summit next month ahead of the G-20 summit.
Lon Snowden said he hoped that the dispute with Russia would not distract attention from the NSA’s spying programs.
“The fight isn't in Russia," he told Reuters. "The fight is right here. The fight is about these programs that undermine, infringe upon, violate our constitutional rights.”
He said his son faced a “moral hazard” and had no choice but to flee U.S. law enforcement after revealing what he believed were “real abuses” by intelligence agencies and the administration.
“I believe that my son revealed real abuses by the government, and I believe that we have many politicians, up to the highest levels, many politicians who are threatened and embarrassed by that,” said Snowden.
Lon Snowden said he intended to create a nonprofit group to better educate Americans about their privacy rights.
“I'm going to fight, and I'm going to push forward on this issue, and there's not a politician up to the president of the United States who is going to intimidate me,” he vowed.