November 2nd, 2013
07:24 PM ET

Supporter paints picture of Snowden’s life in Moscow

By CNN’s Greg Clary

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has now been in Moscow for more than five months while Russia considers whether to grant his request for permanent asylum. But his day-to-day activities remain largely a mystery.

One person who knows more than most about Snowden’s situation is Jesselyn Radack, who met with him recently in Moscow.

Radack is a member of the whistleblower-support organization, Government Accountability Project, and a former ethics adviser to the Justice Department. She became a whistleblower herself after raising concerns about the interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.

Radack says security is still paramount for Snowden—she and the other visitors weren’t told the location of their meeting because of security concerns.

“It appeared to be a hotel, somewhere, but I don't know Moscow, so I didn't recognize where we were really,” Radack said.

When Snowden first arrived in Russia, he holed up in an airport transit lounge as Russia decided how to handle his case. But today, Radack said Snowden isn’t simply hiding out and awaiting his fate,  he’s trying to adjust to the culture in which he now finds himself.

“He was pretty occupied most of the day with learning Russian and studying Russian history and getting acclimated to his new environment, to his new home as well as trying to follow the debate going on here and around the world,” Radack said.

Specifically, Radack said, he’s reading the books of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and learning Russian phrases. The New York Times reported Snowden was, ironically, reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” although Radack couldn’t confirm that.

Radack did say Snowden does make a point of keeping tabs on the buzz surrounding him and what U.S. officials are saying about him.

“He's very aware. He's on the Internet so he can see this. He had known that there had been joke about putting him on the assassination list. He also is studying the legislation really carefully and there are certain bills that he liked and didn't like because they didn't go far enough in (the) Foreign Intelligence Act or the Surveillance Act,” Radack said.

Radack said she thinks Snowden wants to be part of the discussion about the NSA’s spying practices someday, perhaps even using technology like Skype to testify before Congress.

“If in the near term, if testimonies were to occur, it would have to be through Skype. But Skype is not really safe because it can give away a location,” Radack said.

“If that can be done in a way that would protect him, he would be glad to do that.”

Snowden did meet with German Member of Parliament, Hans-Christian Stroebele, Thursday where Snowden delivered a letter addressed to the body.

Radack said she can relate to Snowden following her own experience of taking on the government.

“I myself was called a traitor, and a turncoat and a terrorist - which obviously I am not. I am just extremely patriotic and a civically involved American,” Radack said.

Despite all his criticisms of the NSA, Radack said Snowden still sees himself as a patriot, not a traitor as many have made him out to be.

“What he did was in purpose of trying to make the United States a better country and the free and open democratic society it always says it is.”

“He loves the U.S. and he misses the United States,” Radack said.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA • Russia
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. JJ

    If Snowde was this "hero" that his supporters claim him to be, then he would have stayed in America and taken the punishment/been the "martyr". Heck, even Hollywood acknowledges this fact! (see X-Men, May 2000, climatic scene with Wolverine and Magneto)

    November 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  2. WERTWERT32452345

    It's Barack Obama who sorely needs to be prosecuted since it is he who keeps ordering the slaughter of defenseless people with those monster drones of ours and these brainless bloggers here keep on talking about Edward Snowden being such a "traitor"! This is sheer stupidity at it's very worst! After all, Barack Obama is a war criminal, not Edward Snowden!

    November 3, 2013 at 11:49 am | Reply
  3. Random

    I hate to say it but one way or the other he needs to be silenced. Since he chose to defect to russia really the only option to us is to end him. Had he been willing to sit in jail a little while till reforms are the agenda he probably could have been a part of it on some level. But as it sits he remains a liability.
    The only real way I see him walking away from this long term is to return to the us and turn himself in and face it head on. If he had done that to begin with I bet public support would have saved him. Considering he has been awol for half a year Im not sure he can get out of it at this point but Im pretty sure if they could watch him and know he wasnt selling secrets killing him wouldn't be a viable option. The way he played his cards though it is the only option.
    If reform was his goal he achieved it. He needs to stop leaking now. One way or the other.

    November 3, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • WERTWERT32452345

      How can you post such a hateful remark about a man like Edward Snowden? Are you truly that naive as to call him a traitor? H e literally took the lid off the garbage can so to speak and you want him persecuted? We need more people like him and maybe the right-wing thugs in Washington wouldn't be getting away with all the crap that they keep pulling on the rest of us!

      November 3, 2013 at 11:41 am | Reply
      • Random

        Nothing about it is hateful. I knew about what they were doing long before he did what he did. He just proved it.

        Had he done what he did, and been willing to sit in a cell for a few months while it evolved I would be for letting him be a part of reforms. The problem is he is a liability. For the same reason any high ranking official would be if captured by another state. It doesn't matter if he intends damage , that is what he is doing.
        If it were my call I would have one message for him. Come home , debrief , own up for what you did. He has to know no matter where he lives his life is changed. If he could be monitored to ensure he is not continuing his leaks I think it has evolved to the point he probably won't have anything much happen to him over it. The problem is him being in russia with his knowledge, and the fact he gave tons of data away and cannot stop it now.
        There are two problems. One is the 'whistleblowing' the other is his current situation, which is actually a bigger problem than the leak .

        November 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • R3N0

      Face it head on, eh? Best bet return to the US? Ever heard of Chelsea Manning and her 'fair trial'? If you think there is a fair trial to be had in the US then you should do a bit of research on how the US works these days. Fair trials arent really the MO in the US.

      November 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  4. JerseyJeff78

    The foreign intelligence revelations aimed at damaging US relations and US foreign intelligence capabilities destroys Snowden's claim to legitimacy. Foreign intelligence has NOTHING to do with American liberties and only hurts the United States and all Americans.

    Snowden is a defector, not a dissenter. A dissenter does not engage while hiding behind the FSB and Russia in a campaign aimed at hurting the US internationally and US foreign capabilities for intelligence and security, that's a defector.

    November 3, 2013 at 7:58 am | Reply
  5. Mike Kryzhanovsky

    GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN IS KGB "PLANNED CRISIS" TECHNOLOGY
    Read KGB and CIA spy Мikhail Kryzhanovsky secret file on Wikileaks.
    "THE PROFESSIONAL" system by Kryzhanovsky (White House Special Handbook) used by Bill Clinton and Obama.
    http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/5127100_-analytical-and-intelligence-comments-the-professional.html

    November 3, 2013 at 6:41 am | Reply
  6. John

    @marcwinger.com
    Snowden has no nefarious motive for his actions. His actions are based on good conscience. I think what you fail to understand is that what the American Government was and is doing is ILLEGAL. Period. The CIA or the NSA has no legal right to spy on ANY american without a warrant. The CIA or the NSA has no legal right to monitor the communications of ANY american citizen without a warrant. Period. It is ILLEGAL. Understand that.
    Now with that understanding rethink what you just said and tell me that Snowden is a traitor. Snowden is an American Hero, who would be made a martyr by the american government if they could get their hands on him. Or perhaps be made a martyr but the ignorantly uninformed like yourself.

    November 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Good posting, John. By the way, don't pay any attention to idiots like this marcwinger who most probably never got past the 5th grade in school, judging by the nonsense he posted below. People like these do have a right to vomit their ignorance on this web page, too!!!

      November 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Reply
    • JerseyJeff78

      1) The collection of domestic metadata is distasteful, but it isn't illegal while phone data is legally considered in the public domain therefore the collection of metadata did not violate the 4th Amendment. I definitely think it is the wrong place to be collecting intelligence, but I also know enough to know it's not illegal.

      2) 99.9% of the NSA's work is in foreign intelligence and the vast majority of Snowden's leaks have been about US foreign intelligence. Foreign intelligence has ZERO to do with American rights and has everything to do with the security and intelligence capabilities of the US government.

      If Snowden's motives were pure, he wouldn't be hiding behind Putin's leg while overtly releasing foreign intelligence capabilities and operations aimed at damaging US ability to continue operations as well as hurt US diplomatic relations. That is not what a patriotic dissenter is.

      November 3, 2013 at 8:13 am | Reply
  7. davesmall1

    She's trying to put lipstick on a pig

    November 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  8. marcwinger.com

    All very nice words of love for his country & wanting to be "part of the discussion". The fact is, what he did was illegal & he is a Fugitive on the run. Words like betrayal & turncoat are actually Accurate, when describing him.
    He took it upon himself to affect a giant security breach. He should have been more discreet. leaked this to a domestic publication & stayed in the country to take the resulting consequences. As it is, running is the act of a coward & this fantasy that he has, thinking he's part of a "discussion", instead of truthfully being part of the Problem now, is delusional & a lame distraction on his part.
    While I think the NSA should be reigned in, it was never up to uneducated, peon Snowden. The bungling that allowed this child access to sensitive data is monumental & one assumes is being punished (in secret, of course).
    There's nothing heroic about betraying your country & I don't automatically defend "underdogs" just because they've stuck it to the US govt. I'm a conservative & don't believe in an all-powerful, intrusive government. But his actions have put many lives on the line.
    He won't end well. Guaranteed.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Such is to be expected from someone like you with your obvious limitations, marcwinger. The above is something an ignorant, hateful Tea Partier would post. Are you one of them by some chance?

      November 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply

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