Fugitive Snowden's father in Russia, hopes to see son

Reuters
Edward Snowden, displayed on television screens, asks a question to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised question-and-answer session, in Moscow, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Speaking in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin harshly criticized the West for trying to pull Ukraine into its orbit and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands. Putin also took a video question from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, whom Russia granted asylum last year. Asked by Snowden about Russia's surveillance programs, Putin said that Russian special services also tap on communications in their fight against terrorism, but don't do it on such a massive scale as the U.S. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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Edward Snowden, displayed on television screens, asks a question to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised question-and-answer session, in Moscow, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Speaking in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin harshly criticized the West for trying to pull Ukraine into its orbit and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands. Putin also took a video question from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, whom Russia granted asylum last year. Asked by Snowden about Russia's surveillance programs, Putin said that Russian special services also tap on communications in their fight against terrorism, but don't do it on such a massive scale as the U.S. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

* Lon Snowden says he has had no direct contact with sonEdward

* Says unaware of son's plans, believes he is not disclosinginformation

* Russia has not disclosed Snowden's location

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Former U.S. spy agency contractorEdward Snowden's father arrived in Moscow on Thursday to see hisson, who was granted asylum in Russia after he leaked details ofgovernment surveillance programmes and fled the United States.

Speaking at the same Moscow airport where his fugitive sonwas stranded for weeks this summer, Lon Snowden said he had nodirect contact with Edward Snowden but that he felt "extremegratitude that my son is safe and secure and he's free".

The younger Snowden, 30, is wanted in the United States onespionage charges and Russia's decision to grant him temporaryasylum aggravated already tense relations between Moscow andWashington.

Russian authorities and the Russian lawyer who is assistingSnowden, Anatoly Kucherena, have not disclosed his location.

"I am not sure my son will be returning to the U.S. again.That's his decision, he is an adult, he is a person who isresponsible for his own agency," Lon Snowden said, standingbeside Kucherena at Sheremetyevo airport.

"I am his father, I love my son and I certainly hope I willhave an opportunity to see my son," Snowden said.

Edward Snowden was the source of disclosures about U.S.government surveillance that included details about a programthat collected e-mails, chat logs and other types of data fromcompanies such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc.

"I really have no idea what his intentions are," Lon Snowdensaid, citing his lack of direct contact with him.

But he said he believed Snowden had not been involved in thepublication of any information since he arrived in Russia andwas "simply trying to remain healthy and safe".

Directly from the airport, he and the lawyer drove to astate television studio to give an exclusive live interview,indicating the visit was under strong government control.

Kucherena, who said he last saw Edward Snowden on Wednesday,expressed hope the former intelligence contractor would soonfind a job in Russia - possibly in IT or human rights sector -because he has largely run out of his savings and was livingmodestly, mainly of donations.

He also said the fugitive American lived under security inRussia and was avoiding publicity because of the U.S. chaseafter him.

NO HANDOVER

Snowden, who worked as a systems administrator at a U.S.National Security Agency facility in Hawaii, fled to Hong Kongin June and then flew to Moscow. The United States annulled hispassport and urged nations in Latin America and elsewhere not totake him in or help him find refuge from U.S. prosecution.

President Vladimir Putin rejected repeated American pleas tohand Snowden over to the United States but has denied Russia hadany role in Snowden's disclosures or that its intelligenceagencies were working with him in any way.

Putin has used Snowden's case to accuse the United States ofpreaching to the world about rights and freedoms it does notuphold at home.

After Snowden was granted asylum, on Aug. 1, U.S. PresidentBarack Obama pulled out of a summit with Putin that had beenscheduled for early September in Moscow, but then met Putin at aG20 summit in St. Petersburg.

Edward Snowden is in the running for the Sakharov Prize forfreedom of thought, a European human rights award whose pastwinners include Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leaderAung San Suu Kyi. The winner is to be chosen on Thursday.

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