Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower currently living under temporary asylum in Russia, has spoken out against the media for incorrectly portraying, whether intentionally or by accident, his current legal status.
Snowden is known to have been in contact with his father, Lon Snowden, whose own legal team consists of attorney Bruce Fein and Fein’s wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein. The public’s thirst for the story, combined with Snowden’s dubious whereabouts in Russia, has unleashed the media on Mr. Snowden and the Feins.
“It has come to my attention that news organizations seeking information regarding my current situation have, due to the difficulty in contacting me directly, been misled by individuals associated with my father into printing false claims about my situation,” Edward Snowden wrote in an email to the Huffington Post.
Mattie Fein told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Lon Snowden’s legal team did not trust the anti-government secrecy group WikiLeaks or Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published the classified NSA documents leaked by Snowden. She claimed Greenwald has been trying to woo major media outlets into paying over one million dollars for an exclusive interview with the NSA leaker, an assertion Greenwald called “defamatory.”
“I would like to correct the record,” Edward Snowden wrote. “I’ve been fortunate to have legal advice from an international team of some of the finest lawyers in the world, and to work with journalists whose integrity and courage are beyond question. There is no conflict amongst myself and any of the individuals or organizations with whom I have been involved.”
“Neither my father, his lawyer Bruce Fein, nor his wife Mattie Fein represent me in any way,” Snowden’s letter continued. “None of them have been or are involved in my current situation, and this will not change in the future. I ask journalists to understand that they do not possess any special knowledge regarding my situation or future plans, and not to exploit the tragic vacuum of my father’s emotional compromise for the sake of tabloid news.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) confirmed to the Huffington Post that the email is from Snowden. The ACLU is also coordinating Snowden’s legal defense should he eventually return to the US, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Snowden spoke directly to his father earlier this week for the first time since fleeing the US. The relatives exchanged messages via an encrypted Internet chat despite warnings from legal counsel about the possibility the messages would be intercepted. The elder Snowden has also received a Russian visa, saying he plan on visiting his son soon.