Moscow (AFP) – The father of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has held an “emotional” meeting with his son for the first time since the fugitive took refuge in Russia to escape U.S. justice, a report said Friday.
Lon Snowden met his son after arriving in Moscow from the United States on Thursday, Interfax quoted an informed source as saying, without specifying the time or place of the meeting.
“The meeting has already taken place. It was very emotional,” the source told the agency, saying further details would not be given for security reasons.
Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena was not immediately available for comment.
Russia has granted Edward Snowden one year temporary asylum but the United States wants him to be extradited to face espionage charges over his leaking of sensational details of U.S. surveillance programs at home and abroad.
The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor spent over a month in transit at a Moscow airport before being granted asylum on August 1. Since then his whereabouts have been a mystery.
Earlier this week, a group of four retired U.S. ex-intelligence workers and activists who now seek to promote ethics within the profession handed Snowden an award in Moscow.
The Government Accountability Project said Snowden received the Sam Adams Award — a “symbolic candlestick” — at a ceremony in Moscow late Wednesday.
The WikiLeaks website which has supported Snowden late Thursday published the first authenticated photograph of the fugitive since he left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after receiving asylum.
The photograph, a link to which was put on the WikiLeaks Twitter account, showed Snowden smiling and clutching his award in a business suit without a tie, flanked by the US ex-agents who had handed him the prize.
Also present was WikiLeaks employee Sarah Harrison, a British citizen who has accompanied Snowden ever since he arrived in Russia.
The photograph was said to have been taken in Moscow and showed a relatively luxurious room with a red carpet, a painting and florid wallpaper vaguely resembling an upmarket hotel or guesthouse. But there was no further clue as to where it was taken.
The four, billed as “whistleblowers” by Russian state media, spoke to state-controlled RT television after meeting Snowden and said he was in good form while shedding no more light on his whereabouts.
“I think he’s doing remarkably well under the circumstances in which he came here,” said Thomas Andrews Drake, a former NSA executive.
On Monday, a tabloid Russian website LifeNews published a blurry photograph of a man it said was Snowden rolling a trolley of groceries out of a supermarket but the identity was never officially confirmed.
Lon Snowden had told Russian state television in an interview shortly after arriving in Moscow Thursday that he wanted to make sure his son was healthy in the meeting and to discuss his future options.
He said he did not expect Edward Snowden to return to the United States and also warmly thanked the Russian authorities for giving sanctuary to his son.
Lon Snowden, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who lives in Pennsylvania, said he was travelling on a multi-entry Russian visa on his long-mulled visit
The New York Times meanwhile reported that Snowden was suspected of trying to break into files he did not have access to in 2009 while working as a CIA computer technician, adding that a report from his supervisor on this went unheeded.
In the derogatory report on Snowden, the supervisor wrote that he had detected a distinct change in the computer technician’s behaviour and work habits, the paper said.