Edward Snowden wants Russia asylum, lawmaker says

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, AP Published: July 12, 2013
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MOSCOW (AP) — NSA leaker Edward Snowden wants to seek asylum in Russia, according to a Parliament member who was among about a dozen activists and officials to meet with him Friday in the Moscow airport where he's been marooned for weeks.

Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters of Snowden's intentions after the meeting behind closed doors in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

A photo attributed to a Human Rights Watch representative who attended the meeting was posted on the Guardian and other websites, in the first image to appear of Snowden since the newspaper broke the story of widespread U.S. Internet surveillance based on his leaks.

Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the transit zone since June 23, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong, where he had gone before his revelations were made public.

He had been expected to transfer in Moscow to a Cuba-bound flight, but did not get on the plane and had not been seen in public since then.

Snowden earlier made an initial bid for Russian asylum, but President Vladimir Putin said he would have to agree to stop leaking secrets about U.S. intelligence before asylum would be considered. Snowden then withdrew his bid.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua recently have offered him asylum, but it is unclear if he could fly to any of those countries from Moscow without passing through airspace of the United States or its allies.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Putin, told Russian news agencies after the announcement Friday that Russia has not received a new bid for asylum from Snowden and that Putin would continue to insist that Snowden stop leaking information

The activists at the meeting included Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International's Russia office, and Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch. Also taken into the meeting room were Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, prominent attorney Genri Reznik, and Nikonov.

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