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A new photo of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has surfaced — it is the first photo released of Snowden since he left the Moscow airport.
Snowden emerged from hiding to receive the Sam Adams Associates Integrity in Intelligence Award. In the photo, the whistleblower appeared to be healthy and happy. He smiled as he stood next to Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks journalist who helped him get asylum in Russia.
At this time, the geographical location where Snowden received the award is unclear, but he was most likely in Moscow.
The Sam Adams Associates Integrity and Intelligence Award is given each year by a group of retired CIA officers. It is given to an individual who takes a stand against abuse of information gathering. Many of the award’s past recipients have been whistleblowers — in fact, the award itself is named after Vietnam whistleblower Samuel A. Adams. Wikileak’s Julian Assange received the award in 2010.
Four former US government officials met with Snowden on the day he received the award — they are the first Americans to have met with the whistleblower since he left the Moscow airport. They claim Snowden was in good spirits and did not regret the leaking of classified documents.
Former NSA official Thomas Drake was one of the four Americans who met Snowden. Drake said, “He spoke about going out and about and getting to understand Russia and its culture and the people. For his own safety it’s best that no one else knows where he actually lives. But I believe he is making the best of his circumstances and is living as normally as possible.”
Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department official, was also there. Radack said, “He spoke very openly about a whole range of things, a number of which I won’t get into here, but it certainly didn’t involve any kind of manipulation by the Russian government or anyone else for that matter.”
Snowden’s father, Lon Snowden, went to Russia to visit with Edward on the same day that the photo was released.
Lon thanked Russia and Putin for giving his son asylum. He also commented on his son’s current condition and future plans. He said to Russian media, “I’m not sure that my son will be returning to the U.S. again. He’s safe and he’s free, and that’s a good thing… I love my son.”
Lon said it was his understanding that his son had stopped leaking information, a condition of his asylum.
Some US government officials have said they believe Snowden was under the control of the Russian government. The whistleblower’s interactions with the four Americans seems to debunk this.
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