The father of the Somali pirate in U.S. custody says his son was "misled" into pirate activity and should be treated with leniency.

In an interview with VOA's Somali service Friday, Abdilkadir Muse said he believes his son, Abdiweli Muse, came under the influence of gangs and money.

The elder Muse said his son is 16 years old, and he called on the U.S. government to consider that when it puts the pirate on trial.

The pirate's mother, meanwhile, has appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to release her son.  Adar Abdurahman Hassan told the BBC her son is innocent.

Abdiweli Muse was taken into U.S. Navy custody off the Somali coast April 12.  He reportedly surrendered shortly before snipers shot and killed the three other pirates holding American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips. 

The U.S. government has yet to announce any charges against Muse.