I get why Lonnie Snowden is making this defense — as a father myself of a son nearly the same age, I’d be looking to find any defense that might work. On the other hand, the “he fell in with the wrong crowd” excuse is usually only valid during the teen years, no? And that presumes that Snowden had been working with Wikileaks all along, a position that might complicate matters for Edward Snowden if and when he comes back to the US:

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The father of Edward Snowden acknowledged Friday that his son broke U.S. law, but maintained that he is not a traitor for releasing classified information about the government’s previously secret surveillance programs.

“At this point I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has in fact broken U.S. law, in a sense that he has released classified information,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC’s Michael Isikoff in an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY. “And 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. “

Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to select where a trial would take place.

Snowden père can send all the letters he wants to Eric Holder, but I doubt that this Department of Justice — or any other, for that matter — would agree to refrain from arresting him, allow him to talk freely, and pick his own judge after a leak of this magnitude.  Why not ask for a unicorn and a rainbow or two?  Again, I have a lot of sympathy for the elder Snowden, and respect the fact that he’s not trying to ignore the fact that his son committed serious felonies, but … come on, man.

Meanwhile, Ecuadoreans aren’t thrilled with the trade war that Snowden might have triggered:

Ecuador, the South American country known for the Middle of the World — a park honoring the Equator that boasts a yellow line painted on the ground said to be precisely at Earth’s midpoint — is now becoming the center of an international chase for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Public opinion in Ecuador runs hot and cold on whether the country should extend political asylum to Snowden. While some admire their president for trying to stick it to the United States, others fear economic fallout if Snowden settles in Ecuador.

One Ecuadorean newspaper this week called the leaker a “hot potato,” while another labeled him “a spy.”

If the elder Snowden is unhappy with the Wikileaks crowd, the government in Ecuador has its issues with Julian Assange, too.  The confusion over whether the government issued travel papers to Snowden appears to have originated with Assange, who’s getting a little pushy for the Correa government’s taste, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Jose de Cordoba and Jeanne Whalen:

Mr. Assange—the antisecrecy-group founder who for the past year has been sheltered inside Ecuador’s London embassy—wrote to Ecuadorean officials Monday that he hoped his role in the Snowden matter hadn’t embarrassed the government, according to an internal Ecuadorean diplomatic correspondence obtained by Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Networks and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

But in the note, Mr. Assange also offered public-relations advice to top Ecuadorean officials about how to handle the crisis. Mr. Assange’s earlier efforts on Mr. Snowden’s behalf had prompted one diplomat to caution that Mr. Assange could be perceived as “running the show” in Ecuador.

In addition, it was an Ecuadorean diplomat who has said he is close with Mr. Assange—Fidel Narvaez, the consul at Ecuador’s London embassy—who issued a controversial temporary travel document intended for Mr. Snowden, according to another of the Ecuadorean diplomatic correspondences. …

WikiLeaks has previously said it is organizing the travel for Mr. Snowden and has provided him legal aid. But according to one document reviewed by the Journal, Mr. Assange has also suggested to top Ecuadorean officials how to manage the whole public relations side of the Snowden matter.

Mr. Assange’s role has raised hackles among Ecuadorean officials. In one of the internal correspondences, Ecuador’s ambassador to the U.S., Nathalie Cely, appeared to tell presidential spokesman Fernando Alvarado that communications should be handled better.

“I suggest talking to Assange to better control the communications,” read a note addressed from Ms. Cely. “From outside…[Assange] appears to be ‘running the show.’ “

Well, that’s what Lonnie Snowden thinks, too, so maybe it’s not such an outrageous claim.