Snowden father 'meets son in Russia'

Lon Snowden says he is extremely thankful to Russia for granting asylum to his son

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The father of fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is in Russia to visit his son.

Lon Snowden told journalists in Moscow he felt "extreme gratitude that my son is safe and secure and he's free". He later met his son, local media say.

Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in August after weeks spent in a transit zone at Moscow airport when the US revoked his travel documents.

The 30-year-old leaked many thousands of US intelligence documents.

The information, published in The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers, revealed extensive internet and phone surveillance by both US and British intelligence.

In the US, Edward Snowden faces charges of theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified intelligence.

Each of the charges carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden met four former US security officials in Russia late on Wednesday, it has emerged.

The officials - who now campaign against what they describe as the misuse of state secrecy - said they had presented Mr Snowden with the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award. The award is given annually by a group of retired CIA officers.

The officials told Russian media Mr Snowden had no regrets about leaking the classified files and was convinced he had done the right thing.

"He's remarkably centred," ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley told state-funded RT television.

'Legal options'

Lon Snowden, arriving at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday, was met by his son's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena.

Photo of Edward Snowden taken in June 2013 Edward Snowden is living in a secret location in Russia

"I'm here to learn more about my son's situation," Mr Snowden told reporters. "My hope is to learn more about his circumstances and his health and to discuss legal options."

"If the opportunity presents itself, I certainly hope that I have the opportunity to see my son," he said in televised remarks.

"I'm not sure that my son will be returning to the US. That's his decision, he's an adult."

Lon Snowden later visited his son, but the place and time of the meeting "are not being been revealed for security reasons", said Russia's state-run TV channels Rossiya 24 and Channel One.

Lon Snowden has in the past praised his son for speaking "the truth" and making great sacrifices, and has spoken of his concern that he would not face a fair trial if he returned to the US.

Edward Snowden accessed many of the documents while working for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii, where he had been living with his girlfriend.

As the revelations became public, Mr Snowden fled to Hong Kong where, with his consent, The Guardian revealed his identity in June.

To escape US attempts to extradite him, Mr Snowden moved on to Russia where he remained in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport until Russia granted him asylum.

Russia's move added to already tense relations with the US. Washington cancelled a bilateral summit in September.

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