Former NSA contactor seems to be set on staying in Russia for the long term

Lon Snowden arrived in Moscow on Thursday morning. Source: Getty Images / Fotobank

Edward Snowden’s father, Lon Snowden, was immediately put under surveillance upon arrival in Moscow. According to Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, the car carrying both men was followed by several cars right from the airport.

“Some four or five cars are following us, this is obvious. Who are they? We don’t have any idea. All the way from the airport I’ve been trying to stop, and they would do the same,” says the lawyer.

These turned out to be journalists though, which forced Kucherena to address the media: “I’m aware of how much interest this raises, but I’d like to point out that Edward’s security is at stake.” Indeed, Lon Snowden’s trip to Russia resembles espionage fiction.

“At first, I couldn’t find him in the airport,” says Marina Romanova, a Life News correspondent. “And then I spotted this man doing his best to stay unnoticed: He was wearing a cap and sun glasses; he was stooping and his hair wasn’t curly anymore.”

According to Romanova, the former NSA contractor’s father was trying to throw anyone who would want to follow him off track, so he stuck with the passengers waiting for a flight to China. However, the correspondent was on his heels and took his flight too.

“There were few passengers on this flight — almost all of them Russian. He tried to get lost again, taking a seat at the rear and not turning on the light, even though it was quite dark,” says Romanova. “However, it was obvious that Snowden senior, so strung up at the airport, was a bit more relaxed. Once up in the air, he took a breather.”

“I talked to him first about trivial things: I pointed out that he had lost a lot of weight and asked if he realized that his son wouldn’t ever be able to go back to the U.S.,” says Romanova. The word “ever” visibly made him nervous.

It was evident that Lon is taking it all very close to heart and understands the gravity of the situation. At the same time, he kept repeating that the world does not truly know his son yet.

“For Lon, his son is a hero and, of course, the U.S. media coverage upsets him a lot,” the Life News correspondent says.

When the plane landed in Sheremetevo airport, Lon Snowden was the last one to leave it. A few people were already waiting for him outside, including the airport VIP lounge staff members. Lon looked much more confident and robust.

Lon Snowden was immediately in the spotlight of the local media in Russia. At the airport, he announced that he is extremely grateful to Russia, President Putin and Anatoly Kucherena for the help they offered to secure his son’s security. He also indicated his intention to come frequently to Russia and obtain a multi-entry visa to be able to do so.

Kucherena, the lawyer and de facto confidant of Snowden, has reported that he still has not received any official charges against Edward Snowden.

“At present, no official requests to Russia for Edward’s extradition have been received, and Edward has faced no official charges,” says Kucherena.

“And as a professional lawyer, I can’t grasp this fact. They keep persecuting Edward, keeping the risks for him high; but, in fact, all of this is outside the legal context. We are told: ‘Hand him over, end of story!’ We say: ‘Well, there is a certain procedure for this, but Russia can’t extradite him, because there is no agreement between Russia and the U.S.,’” says the lawyer.

Kucherena has also said that Snowden junior holds no talks with other countries for asylum andis looking for a job in Russia. According to him, the fugitive American could get a well-paid job in the near future, and he has already received a few offers. “I can say that there are quite a few job offers for him to consider. I’m sure Edward will find one and it will be fairly well-paid,” the lawyer says.

“We have discussed whether this will be something IT-related or rather in the human rights field,” says Kucherena. The lawyer remarks that Snowden wants to get a job to earn money, rather than tap into the fund that is crowdsourcing money for him.

This article first appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines.