NSA leaker & former CIA employee Edward Snowden has asked for political asylum in Russia, saying he could not fly to Latin America, according to Human Rights Watch representative who met the whistleblower.
According to Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, Snowden seeks to stay in Russia as he “can’t fly to Latin America yet.”
The former NSA contractor asked the rights activists to intervene with Putin on his behalf, Lokshina added.
Thirteen Russian and international human rights advocates and lawyers have gathered at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport for a meeting with Snowden scheduled for 5pm Moscow time (13:00 GMT). The NSA leaker was expected to speak out about the US persecution campaign.
Rights advocates who received letters from Snowden and agreed to come to the meeting included representatives of Amnesty International, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations, as well as well-known Russian lawyers.
The meeting started behind closed doors in an undisclosed area of Sheremetyevo’s Terminal F.
Meanwhile, several hundred journalists have surrounded a gray ‘staff only’ door guarded by airport security, awaiting for comments from the meeting participants.
The Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by saying the Kremlin has not yet received any formal asylum request from Snowden. The conditions for his staying in Russia remain the same as voiced by Vladimir Putin earlier, he added.
Should Snowden apply for asylum, Russia will consider his request, Peskov said.
Russia was one of over twenty countries to which Snowden sent asylum request according to Wikileaks. President Vladimir Putin said then Snowden may stay in Russia, if he wants to, but only if he stops activities aimed against the United States.
“There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound from me,” Putin told a media conference in Moscow.
In Putin’s opinion, Snowden considers himself “a fighter for human rights” and it seems unlikely that he is going to stop leaking American secret data.
However, Russia is not going to extradite Snowden, the president underlined.
“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin stated.
“Snowden, by sincere conviction or for some other reason, considers himself to be a human rights activist, a fighter for the ideals of democracy and human freedom. Russian human rights activists and organizations, as well as their colleagues abroad acknowledge this. For this reason, extraditing Snowden to a country like the US where capital punishment is enforced is impossible,” Peskov explained to press.