The father of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden arrived early Thursday in Moscow, hoping to meet his son for the first time since the latter became a fugitive.
Lon Snowden arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where his son had spent more than a month in transit limbo before Moscow agreed to grant him temporary asylum.
“I’m here to learn more about my son’s situation,” he told journalists at the airport. “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,” Lon Snowden said in televised remarks.
He was met at the airport by Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, who said he will be hosting Lon Snowden as his “guest”. Kucherena said they have not yet decided how long the elder Snowden will stay in the country.
Lon Snowden said he had had no direct contact with his son in recent months, and said he didn’t yet know what his plans are. “I really have no idea what his intentions are,” he said.
“I’m not sure that my son will be returning to the US,” he told journalists. “That’s his decision, he’s an adult.”
“I have extreme gratitude that my son is safe, secure, and free” in Russia, he said, repeating that he believed his son to be a “whistleblower” rather than a criminal.
Snowden flew in to Moscow on June 23 from Hong Kong with a revoked US passport and remained in the transit area for weeks, as Russia mulled US requests to hand him over.
He finally walked out of the airport on August 1 after obtaining temporary asylum in Russia despite protests from Washington and has remained underground ever since.
On Monday a tabloid Russian website LifeNews published a blurry photograph of a man it said was Snowden rolling a cart of groceries out of a supermarket.
The 30-year-old former CIA contractor is wanted by the United States after revealing to the media details of massive domestic and foreign surveillance by the National Security Agency.
His lawyer Kucherena has said he is living in a secret location in fear of being tracked down by the US. AFP