MOSCOW — The father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said on Russian television that he is grateful to the Kremlin for protecting his son.
Speaking on state Rossiya 24 television in remarks broadcast Wednesday, Lon Snowden of Allentown, Pennsylvania, thanked President Vladimir Putin and his government for the “courage” they have shown in keeping his son safe.
Addressing his son, Lon Snowden said that “your family is well and we love you.” He added that “I hope to see you soon, but most of all I want you to be safe.”
The younger Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23. Russia is considering his request for temporary asylum.
In a separate interview with The Washington Post Lon Snowden said the FBI had approached him in hope that he might travel to Russia and try to convince his son to return to the U.S., but he rejected the agency’s advance because it could not promise him access to Edward at Sheremetyevo.
“I said, ‘I want to be able to speak with my son. . . . Can you set up communications?’ And it was, ‘Well, we’re not sure,’ “ the elder Snowden told the newspaper. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, folks, I’m not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.’ “
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press last week, the elder Snowden said he has lost faith in recent weeks that his son would be treated fairly by the Justice Department. He now thinks his 30-year-old son is better off avoiding the U.S. if possible until an administration that respects the Constitution comes into office.
Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told the Vesti-FM radio station on Wednesday that he was trying to help Snowden’s father visit Russia. Kucherena said he would send Lon Snowden a letter of invitation to Russia later on Wednesday.
“I will do my best to do this today,” Kucherena told the radio. No date has yet been set for Lon Snowden to visit Russia, the lawyer said.
Kucherena said Snowden asked him to get in touch with his father because “he needs moral support.”
Kucherena also said Snowden was still waiting on an official document from the Russian Federal Migration Service acknowledging that his asylum application is under consideration. The certificate, which was expected a week ago, is expected to allow Snowden to move freely within Russia—so that he might finally be able to leave the airport.