Edward Snowden's father in Russia to meet son

Thursday 10 October 2013 19.31
Russian state media broadcasting visit of Lon Snowden (right) in Moscow with his son's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena
Russian state media broadcasting visit of Lon Snowden (right) in Moscow with his son's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena

Ex-US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's father is in Moscow to visit his son for the first time since he was granted asylum in Russia after leaking details of US 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.

He expresed "extreme gratitude that my son is safe and secure and he's free".

The younger Snowden, 30, is wanted in the US on espionage charges and Russia's decision to grant him temporary asylum aggravated already tense relations between Moscow and Washington.

Russian authorities and his lawyer have have not disclosed the computer specialist's 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 U.S.again".

Mr 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.

Admirers have called him a human rights champion with US critics denouncing him as a traitor.

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 his son's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, drove to a state television studio to give an exclusive live interview, indicating the visit was under strong government control.

Mr 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.

"I think he will find a job shortly," his lawyer said.

"He has already had many job offers. This issue is being considered now. I'm absolutely confident that Edward will find a job, and will find a very well-paid job as he's very skilled. He actively learns Russian, he has some success already in that regard," added Mr Kucherena, 

He said the American was living under security and avoiding publicity because of the US hunt for him. 

Mr Kucherena later said father and son would meet on today but that Lon Snowden would first have to travel "quite a number of kilometres", echoing previous coy statements intended to keep people guessing about the younger Snowden's location.

He said that Lon Snowden would be in Russia for a few days and "as he is here for the first time, I have prepared an entire programme so that he can meet with his son and get more closely acquainted with our country," state news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Mr Snowden, who worked as a systems administrator at a US National Security Agency facility in Hawaii, fled to Hong Kong in June and then flew to Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin rejected US pleas to hand him over, but denied Russia had any role in Mr Snowden's disclosures or that its intelligence agencies were working with him in any way.

Mr Putin has used the case to accuse the US of preaching to the world about rights and freedoms he says it does not uphold at home.

Keywords: edward snowden