Sergei L. Loiko – Los Angeles Times July 1, 2013
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked U.S. security secrets and is now a fugitive, met Monday morning with Russian diplomatic officials and handed them an appeal to 15 countries for political asylum, a Russian Foreign Ministry official told The Times.
“It was a desperate measure on his part after Ecuador disavowed his political protection credentials,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ”In the document Snowden reiterated once again that he is not a traitor and explained his actions only by a desire to open the world’s eyes on the flagrant violations by U.S. special services not only of American citizens but also citizens of European Union including their NATO allies.”
The official didn’t disclose the countries that were on the list. The meeting took place at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Snowden has apparently holed up in a transit lounge since fleeing from Hong Kong while seeking a route to Ecuador or somewhere else that might grant him asylum.
Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, a Kremlin advisory body, said he believes that Russia is on the list.
“In the given circumstances, Russia has two workable options: Firstly is to provide Snowden with some refugee-status papers so that he could buy a ticket and leave for some other country, or secondly to grant him political asylum,” Kabanov said in an interview with The Times.
“Snowden’s actions were motivated by a desire to protect human rights and freedoms and now many rights activists in Russia are talking about him as a human rights advocate who deserves to be granted asylum, although this measure is fraught with some political inconveniences for Russia,” he said.