Late last month, Edward Snowden’s attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, brought his client a collection of Russian books, including Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and works by Chekhov.
His gift, it turns out, was prescient, as the Snowden saga has now come to resemble a Russian family drama.
On Thursday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal posted a story that alleged deep rifts within the Snowden family. Bruce Fein — the attorney for the whistleblower’s father, Lon Snowden — said Lon deeply distrusted Ed’s legal team and feared that he was being manipulated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who the father claimed did not have his son’s best interests in mind. Mattie Fein, Bruce Fein’s wife and spokesperson, further alleged that Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist at the center of the saga, had been shopping Ed Snowden to television networks for exclusive interviews at a seven-figure price tag. Greenwald called that allegation "defamatory."
Earlier on Thursday, Ed and Lon Snowden spoke to one another for the first time since the NSA imbroglio began. Against the advice of their lawyers, they talked via an encrypted chat system for some two hours. What they discussed is unknown. (What does a father say to his son when he has exiled himself from his country after exposing its most closely held secrets?)
Some time after that conversation, the Journal story went up. "The thing we have been most concerned about is that the people who have influence over Ed will try to use him for their own means," Mattie Fein told the paper. "These guys have their own agenda here and we aren’t so sure that it has Ed’s best interest in mind."
In short: We don’t trust Assange and Greenwald.
From there, the plot further thickened as Ed Snowden himself tried to calm things down from his perch somewhere (exact location unknown) in Russia. In a statement to the Huffington Post‘s Michael Calderone, Ed said that he had complete confidence in his legal team and that his father and his father’s attorney do not represent or speak for him in any way:
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.
I would like to correct the record: 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. 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.
Meanwhile, on an entirely different front in the Snowden saga, the Washington Post posted a blockbuster article that details how the NSA has broken privacy rules thousands of times. Reuters also reported Thursday that U.S. officials believe Snowden began downloading classified documents in April 2012 while working for Dell, well before moving to Booz Allen Hamilton.
All this played out in the course of about six hours on a Thursday in August. Ed Snowden’s most serious allegations of wrongdoing at the NSA began to be confirmed. His father’s fears were revealed.
So which Russian novel does this most resemble? Crime and Punishment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I’ll ask you to leave your suggestions in the comments.