Snowden Declares Interest In Russia Asylum ‘For Now’


Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Friday told activists he wanted to claim asylum in Russia until he can travel on to Latin America, in his first encounter with the outside world since becoming marooned at a Moscow airport three weeks ago.

The dramatic meeting at Sheremetyevo airport with rights groups and lawyers appeared an attempt by Snowden to find a way out of an increasingly difficult situation as he seeks to escape US espionage charges for leaking sensational details of widespread American surveillance activities.

Snowden, 30, told a group of activists and lawyers from organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that he had “no regrets” about his revelations.

“That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets,” Snowden said in a transcript released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Photographs posted on social media by participants showed Snowden dressed in a grey shirt and looking relaxed as he addressed the meeting. He was accompanied by Sarah Harrison, a British WikiLeaks employee who has been with him throughout his stay in Russia.

Snowden, who has no official travel documents, said he needed asylum in Russia before he could work out a way to travel legally to Latin America.

“I will be submitting my request to Russia today (Friday), and hope it will be accepted favourably,” he said.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all indicated they would be open to offering Snowden a safe haven.

“Some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law… This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America,” Snowden said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane, flying home from a trip to Moscow, was diverted last week after several European nations closed their airspace to him over groundless rumours that Snowden was on board the jet.

Snowden initially applied for asylum in 21 countries, most of which rejected the request, and then made applications to another six nations.