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NSA leaker Edward Snowden deserves a Nobel Prize, his father says

By Phil Black and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Thu October 10, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Edward Snowden has job offers in Russia and has a girlfriend there, lawyer says
  • Snowden's father says he wants to get on with his life but stresses that he loves his son
  • Snowden fled the U.S. after leaking information about NSA spy programs
  • He received asylum in Russia after being holed up at a Moscow airport for weeks

Moscow (CNN) -- The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden told reporters in Moscow that he thinks his son deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

He arrived there Thursday for his first visit with his son since the former government IT contractor fled the United States after leaking National Security Agency spy program details to the media.

Members of the European Parliament nominated Snowden in September for the Andrei Sakharov Prize, which honors figures who stand up to oppressive powers. The prize was awarded to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai on Thursday.

"Edward took the Sakharov prize nomination very calmly," Lon Snowden told reporters at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport. "He wanted to expose the injustices in the American system, and wasn't doing it with any awards in mind."

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Edward Snowden collected information on spy programs, in which the NSA mined phone and Internet metadata from thousands of people inside and outside of the United States. He exposed the program to the media.

Anticipating legal consequences, he initially fled to Hong Kong in late May but flew to Moscow on June 23. He was holed up at the airport for more than five weeks. U.S. authorities have charged him with espionage and theft of government property.

Snowden received asylum in Russia on August 1 and left the airport.

Snowden's father: 'I know my son. I know he loves his country'

Low profile

Lon Snowden's visit to Russia seems shrouded in mystery, as Edward Snowden is keeping information about himself close to the vest.

"I've had no direct contact with my son despite previous reports, so I really have no idea what his intentions are," Lon Snowden told reporters at the airport.

Snowden the son has kept a low profile, apparently not even telling his father where in Russia he is living.

"I cannot answer the question if Edward is in Moscow," Lon Snowden said. "I don't know that. I haven't been informed where Edward is right now."

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, also has not disclosed Snowden's location. But he told reporters that he had met with him Wednesday.

It appears that Snowden is settling in to his new surroundings.

He has been living from savings and donations but has had some job offers, Kucherena said.

"I am confident that he would find a high-paying job. He is very capable." He is also learning Russian and soaking in Russian culture, Kucherena said.

And he has a girlfriend.

The lawyer earlier told reporters that Edward Snowden may hold a news conference soon, but later reversed that, saying the former contractor had no intention of speaking publicly.

Since the movie "The Fifth Estate" came out, which is based on the experiences of WikiLeaker Julian Assange, producers have contacted Snowden about telling his story on film.

But he does not seem interested at the time.

Defending his son

As in the past, Lon Snowden defended his son's actions Thursday, calling him a "whistle-blower" who is "not leaking information."

"I don't think the American public knows all the details of what my son did," he said.

Snowden has said that he does not expect his son to receive a fair trial in the United States and would not want him to come home, until that changes.

"I'm not sure that my son will be returning to the U.S. again. That's his decision. He is an adult," the elder Snowden told reporters.

He thanked the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin for taking his son in. "I consider Edward to be absolutely safe in Russia. He is comfortable here," he said.

Lon Snowden has received a visa for multiple entries into the country. "I hope to return to Russia many times," he said.

Father Lon carefully separated his own interests from Edward Snowden's, speaking of getting on with his own life in the United States, while his son moves on with his in Russia.

But he in no way distanced himself from the younger Snowden.

He told reporters: "I am his father. I love my son."

Snowden: My father and his legal team do not speak for me

CNN's Boriana Milanova contributed to this report.

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