Edward Snowden’s father arrived in Moscow on Thursday to visit the former U.S. spy agency contractor who is living in a secret location in Russia beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.
“I am his father, I love my son and I certainly hope I will have an opportunity to see my son,” Lon Snowden told reporters at the airport, adding that he felt “extreme gratitude that my son is safe and secure and he’s free.”
Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency in Hawaii, fled to Hong Kong in June and then flew to Moscow where he was given a year’s political asylum. President Vladimir Putin’s refusal to hand him over aggravated already tense relations with the United States.
Lon Snowden’s visit will focus international attention once again on Snowden, who was holed up in the Moscow airport for weeks over the summer.
Accompanied by Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Lon Snowden went from the airport to a state media studio for a live interview, suggesting the visit was under government control.
Kucherena said Lon would meet Edward — who has not been seen in public since July — later on Thursday, but that he would have to travel “quite a number of kilometers” to get there.
“I have prepared an entire program so that he can meet with his son and get more closely acquainted with our country,” Kucherena said, according to state newswire Itar-Tass.
Lon Snowden arrived a day after his son was visited by four former U.S. national security officials who support his cause.
The group WikiLeaks posted a photo online of Snowden, smiling and holding an award for “Integrity in Intelligence” that his visitors had given him, flanked by the Americans and WikiLeaks researcher Sarah Harrison.