Fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden will request temporary asylum in Russia because he is unable to fly anywhere else, rights activists said on Friday, following talks with Snowden at the Moscow airport where he remains.
Fugitive US intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden told a group of activists meeting at a Moscow airport on Friday that he wanted to claim temporary asylum in Russia because he is unable to fly anywhere else.
Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina told the Interfax news agency that Snowden said he "wants to stay here" while Olga Kostina, a public chamber state advisory body member, told Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency that Snowden would be requesting asylum in Russia.
Snowden later posted a statement on the Wikileaks website saying that he had accepted asylum offers from Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua but was also applying to stay in Russia until he could find a legitimate way to travel out of the country.
Snowden made an earlier application for Russian asylum, but President Vladimir Putin said asylum would only be granted if Snowden stopping leaking classified US information. Snowden then withdrew his asylum bid, Russian officials said.
Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the airport's transit zone since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.
On Friday he met with Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International's Russia office, and Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch.
Also at the meeting were Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, prominent attorney Genri Reznik, and Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Russian parliament's education committee.
They came after an email in Snowden's name was sent on Thursday. On Facebook, Lokshina posted the text of the email, which says in part that Snowden wants to make “a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation.”
The text of the invitation did not directly address the offers of asylum that Snowden has received from Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, though it expressed gratitude for asylum offers and saying “I hope to travel to each of them.”
It also accused the United States of “an unlawful campaign ... to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum.”
It remains unclear how much the involvement of human rights organisations could influence a Russian asylum bid
But the appeal by Snowden to internationally respected groups could boost his status and give Russia a pretext for reconsidering asylum.
Russia has said it cannot extradite him because because by remaining in the transit zone of the airport he is technically outside Russian territory.
Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have said they would be willing to grant asylum to Snowden. But it is unclear if Snowden could fly from Moscow to any of those countries without passing through the airspace of the United States or allied countries.
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Date created : 2013-07-12