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.