Snowden meets with rights groups, seeks temporary asylum in Russia

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MOSCOW — American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden met with human rights activists and lawyers Friday in a transit zone of a Russian airport, in his first public appearance since he left Hong Kong last month.

He has asked rights groups to lobby the Russian government to grant him temporary asylum, Russian Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina said. Snowden also said he wants to move to Latin America once he is able to do so, she said.

A photograph provided by a Russian Human Rights Watch staffer at the meeting shows him sitting behind a desk, looking much as he did when last photographed.

The former National Security Agency contractor is believed to have been holed up in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since leaving Hong Kong for Russia on June 23.


NSA leaker Edward Snowden says, “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

The meeting with Snowden began at around 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET).

A CNN team at the airport saw about half a dozen people — including Russia’s human rights ombudsman and representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Russian human rights groups — enter a door marked “Private” in Terminal E. Police and security officers then kept the media at a distance.

Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International’s Moscow office, who was at the meeting, said he was pleased to voice the organization’s support for Snowden in person.

“We will continue to pressure governments to ensure his rights are respected — this includes the unassailable right to claim asylum wherever he may choose,” he said in a statement.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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