Moscow (AFP) – The father of Edward Snowden has left Russia after meeting the U.S. intelligence leaker at a secret location, the fugitive’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
Lon Snowden had an “emotional” meeting with his son, who is wanted by U.S. authorities on espionage charges for spilling secrets about Washington’s secret surveillance programs, after arriving in Moscow on October 10, Russian news reports said.
Edward Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said the father was especially grateful to Russia for providing refuge to his son in the face of Washington’s extradition demands.
“Snowden senior is very happy with the way he was received in Russia and the way that his son is being treated,” Kucherena told the Interfax news agency.
“He still loves his son very much and views him as a completely honest person who did the right thing,” said the lawyer.
“He will continue to support his son in the future,” Kucherena added without specifying when Lon Snowden left Moscow.
Both Kucherena and Snowden’s father have refused to divulge where the former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was staying, for security reasons.
The anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website that has backed Snowden’s cause released footage over the weekend showing the fugitive receiving an award in Russia from four retired U.S. ex-intelligence workers who promote ethics within their profession.
But other details about Snowden’s life in Russia have remained sketchy since he was granted temporary asylum in August after spending five weeks in limbo in a Moscow airport transit zone.
Kucherena has said that Snowden was studying Russian and thinking of finding local work.
Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where he lived briefly in hiding while his most sensational exposes of U.S. cyber-intelligence work were being published by major newspapers in Britain and the United States.
Snowden had initially sought asylum in Latin America before deciding to stay in Russia out of fear that his plane may be grounded while travelling over EU states.
Russia’s refusal to handover Snowden to U.S. authorities added to tensions between Moscow and Washington and contributed to President Barack Obama’s decision not to pay a scheduled visit to Moscow in September.