NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s father arrives in Moscow

Lon Snowden expresses gratitude to Russia and Putin for providing safe haven to the NSA whistleblower

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The Independent Online

The father of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has arrived in Moscow, telling a Russian television channel that he hoped to meet with his fugitive son “if the opportunity present itself”.

Arriving at Sheremetyevo airport after an early flight from New York, Lon Snowden told state television channel Rossiya 24 that he was “extremely thankful… to the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin” for providing safety and security to his son.

Lon Snowden said in recent months he had had no direct contact with his son, and had “no idea what his intentions are“.

Looking tired and weary from the flight, Snowden senior told reporters: “I'm not sure that my son will be returning to the US. That's his decision, he's an adult.“

Edward Snowden, who fled a possible 30-year prison sentence for leaking damaging information about US surveillance programs, was allegedly captured on camera while shopping in Moscow earlier this week.

The goateed, back-pack wearing man was thought by some to be identifiable as the former US intelligence contractor because the grey shirt pictured was similar to the one Snowden wore in his interviews with the Guardian earlier this year.

Yesterday Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger defended publishing the secret files supplied to him by Edward Snowden, saying his newspaper could conceivably put similar documents out in the open in the future.

Lon Snowden, a retired military officer now living in Pennsylvania, has not spurned public appearances since his son left the US to seek asylum abroad.

In a June interview with Fox News, Snowden senior said that he would rather see his son face jail in the US than walk free in a country without American liberties.

But later the ex-coastal guard's anguish turned to dissilusion with the US government. In July, he told the Washington Times  that he was "an American citizen who has lost faith in many of the leaders on both sides of the political aisle."

Earlier today Edward Snowden missed out on a top European human rights prize he was nominated for. Lawmakers from the EU presented the €50,000 (£42,000) award to Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai.