MOSCOW: Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden’s father arrived in Moscow yesterday to see his son, who was granted asylum in Russia after leaking details of government surveillance programmes.
Speaking at Sheremetyevo airport, where his fugitive son was stranded for weeks this summer, Lon Snowden said he had no direct contact with Edward Snowden for months, but felt “extreme gratitude that my son is safe and secure and he’s free”.
The younger Snowden, 30, is wanted in the United States on espionage charges and Russia’s decision to grant him temporary asylum aggravated already tense relations between Moscow and Washington.
Russian authorities and the Russian lawyer who is assisting Snowden, Anatoly Kucherena, have not disclosed his location.
“I am his father, I love my son and I certainly hope I will have an opportunity to see my son,” Lon Snowden said. He told reporters he was “not sure my son will be returning to the US again”.
Snowden’s revelations about the reach and methods of the US National Security Agency, including the monitoring of vast volumes of Internet traffic and phone records, have upset US allies from Germany to Brazil.
Lon Snowden said he did not know his son’s intentions, but believed he had not been involved in the publication of any information since he arrived in Russia and was “simply trying to remain healthy and safe”.
Directly from the airport, he and the lawyer drove to a state television studio to give an exclusive live interview, indicating the visit was under strong government control.
Kucherena expressed hope the former intelligence contractor would soon find a job in Russia — possibly in IT or the human rights sector — because he had largely run out of savings and was living modestly, mainly off donations. He said the American was living under security and avoiding publicity because of the US chase after him.