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American whistle-blowers meet with Edward Snowden in Russia

October 10, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • From left, Jesselyn Radack, Raymond McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Thomas Drake met with former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden.
From left, Jesselyn Radack, Raymond McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Thomas… (Alexander Zemlianichenko…)

MOSCOW -- Former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden met in Moscow this week with four Americans who in some cases had acted as whistle-blowers during their own careers, the group told journalists Thursday.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former NSA senior executive Thomas Andrews Drake, former FBI agent Coleen Rowley and Jesselyn Radack from the Government Accountability Project met with the fugitive American on Wednesday to give him the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, the English-language Russia Today news program reported.

“The irony is that the U.S. has abandoned the rule of law,” Drake told the program Thursday. “They’ve unchained itself from their own Constitution -- the mechanism by which we govern ourselves. And when you ban the real law and use a secret law and secret interpretations of law, we’re in a whole new ball game. It’s a Pandora’s box.”

Snowden “is doing remarkably well under the circumstances in which he came here,” Drake said. “I thought he looked great,” Radack added.

Snowden, wanted by U.S. officials for leaking documents about the NSA’s extensive tracking of communications around the globe, arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23 on a flight from Hong Kong, reportedly hoping to reach a Latin American country that would give him asylum.

McGovern said Snowden “is convinced that what he did was right. He has no regrets, and he is willing to face what the future holds for him.”

Rowley said that during the meeting the group and Snowden discussed issues of intelligence and integrity quite extensively. “We talked about prior examples of great people in history that had themselves been under this type of pressure, and he is remarkably centered,” she said.

McGovern said the prize was awarded to Snowden two months ago but that the opportunity to deliver it to him in person was delayed.

“It is a candlestick holder for someone who has shone bright light into dark corners,” he said.

Radack said Snowden’s primary concern was about “the reform that is beginning in the United States” and “not about his future.”

“It is a global issue given that the NSA is spying on everybody, friend or foe, and that conversation needs to continue,” she said.

They did not disclose Snowden’s whereabouts.

The Sam Adams Award, named after a Vietnam War-era CIA analyst, is given out each year by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, a group of retired intelligence officers, It is awarded, in the group's words, to "truth-tellers" from the intelligence community. Drake, Rowley and Radack are previous winners.

Separately, Snowden’s father, Lon, arrived in Moscow to visit with the fugitive, though it was not immediately clear when and where their meeting will occur.

“I have no idea what his intentions are, but ever since he has been in Russia, my understanding is that he has simply been trying to remain healthy and safe and he has nothing to do with future stories,” the elder Snowden told reporters at the Moscow airport.

Edward Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said his client's safety remains the main concern.

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