The father of fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has arrived in Moscow, where he hopes to visit his son.
Lon Snowden told reporters he had not been able to speak directly to his son since he arrived in Russia, but felt "extreme gratitude" that he was "safe, secure and he’s free". "I’m here to learn more about my son’s situation,” he said. "My hope is to learn more about his circumstances and his health and to discuss legal options. "I am his father, I love my son and I certainly hope I will have an opportunity to see my son."
Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August after spending five weeks holed up in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. He is wanted in the United States on espionage charges after leaking detailed of classified surveillance programmes.
The 30-year-old fled to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii in June and is thought to have been attempting to fly to South America via Russia when the US revoked his passport, stranding him in Moscow.
Lon Snowden, a US Coast Guard veteran who lives in Pennsylvania, said he was not sure whether his son would ever return to the United States. "I really have no idea what his intentions are," he said. "I’m not sure that my son will be returning to the US. That’s his decision, he’s an adult, he is a person who is responsible for his own agency."
He added that he did not believe his son had leaked further information since arriving in Russia, in keeping with a condition set by President Putin not to further harm the United States. He said he was "simply trying to remain healthy and safe".
Mr Snowden was driven straight from the airport to a Russian state television studio where he reiterated his gratitude to Russia and "the Russian people". He was accompanied by his son’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, who claimed the men had been followed across Moscow by five unidentified cars and that he was still very concerned for Edward Snowden’s safety.
Mr Kucherena said: "Edward is leading quite a closed way of life. This is connected with the fact that he’s being chased by a superpower - the US." He added that Snowden had exhausted his savings and was now living "modestly" on money donated by strangers while he looks for a job. He said his client was considering a variety of offers and might work in IT or human rights, noting that he had no doubt he could earn a high salary and was already learning Russian.
Lon Snowden, who had travelled overnight from New York, looked tired during the live TV interview and said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on more sensitive details, but repeated his thanks to his hosts. He said: "I just came as a father to visit my son, and I’m thankful to Russia." (SkyNews)