Snowden’s life in exile is starting to come out of the shadows. Here’s what we know.

October 11, 2013

Edward Snowden receives the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award on Oct. 9, 2013, in Moscow. (Sunshine Press/Getty Images)

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has kept a low profile since being granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia over the summer. But some of the fog surrounding his life in Russia started to lift this week. Here's what we know so far:

Snowden met with whistleblowers to accept an award

Snowden accepted the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award, from an organization of former national security officials, earlier this week. He met with four whistle-blowing advocates, including former NSA executive Thomas Drake and former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice and current National Security and Human Rights director of the Government Accountability Project Jesselyn Radack.

He was also nominated for the Andrei Sakharov Prize, which honors those who stand up to oppressive powers, by members of the European parliament in September, but the award was given to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai on Thursday.

Snowden's father is in Russia

Lon Snowden, his father, is currently visiting Russia.  According to interviews, he's staying with Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena. The elder Snowden says he hasn't been in direct contact with his son since the NSA leaks, but told reporters he hopes to visit him while in the country.

Shortly after the younger Snowden was revealed as the source of information about NSA spying programs, his father released an open letter comparing his son to Paul Revere and criticized the Obama administration for its response to the revelations.

Wikileaks associate Sarah Harrison remains by his side

Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks associate who is reported to be a trusted adviser to Julian Assange, accompanied Snowden to accept his award from the Sam Adams Associates. She appears to have been by his side since near the beginning of his international escapades.

Harrison accompanied him on his flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. And she was with him when he left the Moscow airport after being granted asylum, as well as at his side during a meeting with human rights organizations.

It's unclear what his next steps are

While Snowden has stayed almost entirely in the shadows since leaving Moscow airport at the beginning of August, at least one purported photo of his life in exile has surfaced: A casual-looking Snowden shopping for groceries reported by Russian outlet LifeNews. His lawyer confirmed that it appeared to be Snowden, but did not comment on his location besides suggesting he was not in Moscow.

In the same report, Kucherena said Snowden was living frugally and relying on money from unspecified Russia and foreign foundations. But he also suggested that Snowden was considering applying for Russian citizenship and weighing a number of job opportunities — including in journalism.

The whistle-blowing advocates who met with Snowden this week say he is learning Russian and studying literature.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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