By Sergei L. Loiko
Los Angeles Times
MOSCOW: Edward Snowden’s father said he was grateful to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government for their “courage” and “strength” in protecting his son, who is wanted for leaking top-secret U.S. security agency files.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday in Russia with the Rossiya-24 television news network, Lon Snowden said his son is unlikely to get a fair trial in the United States, so Russia remains the safest place for him at the moment.
“The fact is, no assurances have been made that he will be given a fair trial” in the United States, the elder Snowden said at the station’s studios in Washington, where he was accompanied by a lawyer. “I feel Russia has the strength and resolve and convictions to protect my son.”
Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, has been at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, and is wanted in the United States for leaking sensitive data about U.S. government surveillance of Internet and phone communications.
He watched from the airport as his father’s interview was broadcast, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said, speaking to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity.
Snowden has applied for temporary refugee status in Russia, and for more than a week has been waiting for the Federal Migration Service to either approve his application or issue him a certificate allowing him to leave the airport while the application is being reviewed.
“I begin every day with a call to the migration authorities,” Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said Wednesday.
“So far to no avail, which I attribute to bureaucratic hurdles surrounding this unique case.”
Kucherena said he had spoken earlier Wednesday to Snowden’s father, who wants to come to Russia as soon as possible “to cheer up his son.”