Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden's father lands in Moscow on mission to see fugitive son

Lon Snowden lands in Moscow to visit fugitive son, grateful that the whistle-blower granted temporary asylum is 'safe, secure and free'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 4:06am

The father of Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow yesterday, hoping to meet his whistle-blower son for the first time since he became a fugitive.

Lon Snowden arrived on a flight from New York and spoke to reporters at Sheremetyevo airport, where his former intelligence contractor son spent more than a month in transit before Russia agreed to grant him temporary asylum in August.

In an apparently carefully organised itinerary, he swiftly appeared on the state television channel Rossiya 24 looking tired and still wearing his plane outfit of sweatpants and fleece jacket.

In comments dubbed into Russian from English, he admitted he still did not know where his son, 30, was staying.

Edward Snowden's whereabouts have been a mystery ever since he was given asylum.

Lon Snowden said his plans would depend on his son's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who is acting as his host in Russia.

"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.

"If the opportunity presents itself, I certainly hope that I have the opportunity to see my son."

He was met at the airport by Kucherena, a pro-Kremlin public figure with ties to Russia's security agencies.

He has been the public's only source of information about Edward Snowden's life in the past few months and said he met the fugitive on Wednesday.

Kucherena said Snowden continued to live in secret for fear of being tracked down by the United States and relied on donations from various organisations.

He had received several job offers and may take one up soon.

The former National Security Agency analyst is wanted by the US after revealing to the media details of massive domestic and foreign surveillance programmes operated by the secretive agency.

Lon Snowden said he had had no direct contact with his son in recent months, adding: "I really have no idea what his intentions are. I'm not sure that my son will be returning to the US. That's his decision. He's an adult."

He said he believed his son was not leaking information from Moscow, adding: "Edward Snowden, since he has been in Russia, is simply trying to remain healthy and safe.

"I have extreme gratitude that my son is safe, secure, and free" in Russia, he said, adding that he believed his son to be a "whistleblower" rather than a criminal.

Four US whistleblowers who have met with Snowden said he was settling into life in Russia and expresses no regrets about leaking highly classified information.

The whistle-blowers met Snowden on Wednesday at a secret location, the first Americans known to have met with him since he was granted asylum in Russia in August.

One of them, former NSA executive Thomas Drake, said he believed Snowden "is making the best of his circumstances and is living as normally as possible."

Snowden flew in to Moscow on June 23 from Hong Kong with a revoked US passport and remained in the transit area for weeks.

He finally walked out of the airport on August 1 after obtaining temporary asylum despite protests from Washington.

On Monday, a tabloid Russian website LifeNews published a blurry photograph of a man it said was Snowden pushing a cart of groceries out of a supermarket.