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article imageHuman rights activists meet Snowden in Russia — The US outraged

By Eko Armunanto     Jul 12, 2013 in World
The White House criticized Russia for allowing activists to meet with Edward Snowden. The White House's spokesperson said the meeting was a propaganda platform for the man the US wants back. Snowden appeared nervous, but was reportedly in good health.
The meeting was at Moscow airport to discuss what he called threatening and illegal behavior by the United States to prevent him gaining asylum. Earlier on Friday, in a letter sent to a Human Rights Watch official, the former intelligence agency contractor said that he had invited human rights groups to meet at Russia's Sheremetyevo Airport where he has been holed up since he flew to Moscow from Hong Kong last month.
In a statement published by WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden said he was seeking asylum in Russia because he was unable to travel to Latin America, where Venezuela had granted him asylum. Responding to the statement, Kremlin reiterated its condition on Friday.
"Mr. Snowden could hypothetically stay in Russia if he first, completely stops the activities harming our American partners and US-Russian relations and, second, if he asks for this himself," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The US President Barack Obama is due to have a telephone conversation with Putin later on Friday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the phone call had been scheduled for several days, Reuters reported. Snowden has not been seen publicly since he arrived at Sheremetyevo from Hong Kong on June 23 and Russian officials say he has not formally entered the country because he has remained in the airport's transit zone.
The head of the Russian office of Amnesty International, Sergei Nikitin, said he would attend the meeting in the airport's transit area, where Snowden has been staying for nearly three weeks. A representative of Human Rights Watch also said she would go, and posted a Facebook message in which Snowden accused the U.S. of waging "an unlawful campaign" to deny him the right to seek asylum. Three Latin American countries – Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, have offered Snowden asylum; but getting there may prove difficult, as the U.S. has revoked his passport.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
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.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
Edward Snowden
After telling that Snowden was willing to stop leaks, Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov, who attended the meeting at Sheremetyevo airport, said Snowden had not specified whether he was seeking temporary or permanent asylum. "He said that he needs asylum in Russia to freely move around. It suits him perfectly well staying in the airport because everything is fine here. The only thing he wants is to be given freedom of movement," Nikonov said.
Anatoly Kucherena, a well-known lawyer in Russia, said that he would be helping Snowden with the necessary paperwork to officially request asylum, CBS News' Svetlana Berdnikova reports from Russia.
"Mr. Snowden is a courageous person," Kucherena told Russian television station Russia Today. "He is a hero." Kucherena said he would meet with Snowden again in the near future to expedite the process, which was estimated to take at least another two weeks.
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