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Snowden Meets Rights Activists at Moscow Airport

  • VOA News

Russian political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov (C) speaks to journalists after arriving at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow July 12, 2013.

Russian political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov (C) speaks to journalists after arriving at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow July 12, 2013.

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is meeting Friday with human rights groups and Russian lawyers at a Moscow airport to talk about what he says is "threatening behavior" by the United States to keep him from gaining asylum.

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 the 30-year-old Snowden asylum. But getting there may prove difficult, as the U.S. has revoked his passport.

Transit passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, June 26, 2013.

Transit passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, June 26, 2013.

Snowden said he plans to talk with the group he is meeting with about the "next steps forward in my situation." He has not been seen publicly since he arrived at Sheremetyevo airport after a flight from Hong Kong.

The U.S. wants him extradited to stand trial on espionage charges, after he leaked details of surveillance programs conducted by the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency. Russia has refused to release him to U.S. custody, while urging him to depart for another country.

Earlier this week, Snowden explained his disclosure of clandestine American surveillance programs in a newly released segment of a video recorded last month. Britain's Guardian newspaper released the video Tuesday of a June 6 interview conducted in Hong Kong.

Snowden said in the video that he knew the United States would accuse him of espionage in alerting the country's enemies of the surveillance. But he said the United States is also at fault for monitoring the phone records of its citizens and keeping track of Internet connections with possible terrorists.

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