MOSCOW — Edward Snowden was back in the limelight Thursday after four whistle-blowing advocates from the United States reported meeting him to give him an award and after his father arrived for the first time since his son received asylum. Through it all, the fugitive remained hidden.
The four activists, who said they met him Wednesday, gave Snowden a truth-telling award on behalf of Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, an organization of former national-security officials. They ridiculed U.S. government assertions that Snowden has caused grave damage to national security.
The United States has charged Snowden under the Espionage Act for revealing secrets he acquired as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). “Integrity must trump blind loyalty,” said Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent who was at the meeting, Snowden’s first with visitors.
Snowden has not been seen since he left Sheremetyevo International Airport on Aug. 1.
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The four Americans told their story Thursday in a 15-minute program on the RT channel, which is financed by the Kremlin and broadcasts its point of view. Snowden’s father, Lon, met reporters in the company of Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s Kremlin-connected lawyer, and sped from the airport to an appearance on the main Russian television channel, also controlled by the Kremlin.
“I’m Mr. Kucherena’s guest,” Lon Snowden said, “and I’m very thankful for his hospitality, and I’m going to follow Mr. Kucherena’s advice and that will determine where my day leads.”
Lon Snowden acknowledged that Julian Assange and anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks had helped arrange his travel to Moscow, and the four Americans said Sarah Harrison, an Assange aide, remained with Snowden in refuge.
Kucherena declined to reveal details about a meeting between father and son, saying security concerns were paramount and suggesting the United States might take action if it knew Edward Snowden’s whereabouts.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Snowden’s father “really isn’t our concern, and even the father meeting with the son really isn’t our concern.”
“The reaction is the same it’s always been. Mr. Snowden needs to return to the United States to face these charges,” she said.
The Sam Adams Award, named after a Vietnam War-era CIA analyst, was announced in July but presented in person to Snowden, 30, on Wednesday by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former NSA senior executive Thomas Andrews Drake, Jesselyn Radack, from the Government Accountability Project, and Rowley, the former FBI agent.
The award honors Snowden as a whistle-blower, a description the United States calls wrong. U.S. officials contend that whistle-blowers reveal information after efforts to go through official channels are ignored. Snowden, they say, made no such efforts before leaking secrets, forfeiting whistle-blower protections.
Drake, Rowley and Radack previously won the Sam Adams Award.
The four said Snowden is adjusting to life in Russia and expresses no regrets about leaking highly classified information.
Material from the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press is included in this report.