Snowden to seek temporary asylum in Russia
I guess he's tired of living in the international transit lounge at Moscow's airport. Besides, this may be his only way out.
Edward Snowden will ask Russia for temporary asylum, with the hope of eventually traveling to one of the Latin American countries that has offered him a permanent home, a human rights organization official told the New York Times.
The 30-year old former defense contractor has been holed up in the Moscow airport for nearly three weeks after fleeing Hong Kong shortly after admitting to having leaked details of top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs.
But on Friday, he met with officials from prominent human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and an official with the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees, with the hope of moving toward resolution of his status.
Tanya Lokshina, a senior Russia researcher for Human Rights Watch in Moscow, told the Times that Snowden hopes that Russian officials will allow him temporary asylum to enter the country. He's been barred so far from doing so because the United States has revoked his passport, limiting his ability to enter Moscow or travel on to another destination.
If he's granted the temporary asylum, he would be able to visit the embassy of one of the other nations that has already extended him offers of asylum and obtain travel documents. According to Lokshina, he has received offers from Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Snowden is apparently willing to ask Russia for temporary asylum despite Russian president Vladimir Putin's demand that he stop the release of further revelations that could harm the United States.
"If he wants to stay, one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners," Putin said on July 1.
In an interview aired by RT.com, Lokshina said that Snowden was unconcerned by that condition because he did not intend to "harm the United States."
"No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US...I want the US to succeed," Snowden said, according to Lokshina.
Just yesterday, the Guardian released documents detailing how American tech giants dealt with the NSA. Putin may be unhappy that Snowden is in Russia, but the temporary asylum gambit might be the answer. Once he gets travel documents to wherever he's going, he may be able to board a commercial flight to that destination.
Failing that, he's stuck at the airport unless one of his possible destination countries changes their mind and allows him to enter their country with no documents at all.