The father of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden thanked the Kremlin for protecting his son and urged him to stay in Russia.

“I’d like to thank the people of Russia and President Vladimir Putin for their strength, courage and resolve in keeping my son safe,” Lon Snowden said, speaking to Rossiya 24 state television from a studio in the U.S. on Wednesday.

Mr. Edward Snowden must have watched the live interview from his temporary refuge at a Moscow airport transit zone, as he had been alerted beforehand.

Mr. Snowden (30), a former intelligence analyst, has been stuck in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23. Russia is considering his application for temporary asylum, which he filed on July 16.

The elder Snowden said he was proud of his son.

“My son is a principled young man, he is a man of courage and what he saw he couldn’t live with,” he said. “I know that I have raised him to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing means personal sacrifice, and that’s what he did.”

Mr. Lon Snowden told his son that he should not return to U.S. because “no assurances have been made that he will be given a fair trial”.

He said Russia was the safest place for his to take shelter.

“If it were me, I would stay in Russia and that’s what I hope my son will do,” Mr. Lon Snowden said.

He voiced the hope to be able to visit Russia soon and reunite with his son, but said he had not flown to Moscow on an offer from the FBI because the agency could not guarantee that he and his attorney could meet his son in private.

The elder Snowden’s attorney, Bruce Fein, said they had already contacted the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. to make arrangements for their trip to Moscow.

Edward Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said he was also arranging for Lon Snowden to visit his son who “needs moral support”.

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