World News

Snowden Seeking Temporary Russian Asylum

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is seeking temporary asylum in Russia until he can travel to Latin America -- and the Kremlin is indicating it might let him stay in the country if he stops leaking details about clandestine American surveillance programs.

The 30-year-old Snowden met Friday with human rights activists and Russian lawyers at a Moscow airport. Later, the secret-disclosing group WikiLeaks posted a statement from Snowden saying he wanted to stay in Russia until he could safely go to Latin America.

Three leftist governments there -- Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua -- have offered him asylum. But Snowden has been blocked from traveling anywhere because American officials have revoked his passport and want him extradited to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges.

In Washington, after Snowden announced his asylum bid, the White House said there still is "absolutely justification" for Russia to expel Snowden to the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused the U.S. request while urging Snowden to leave for another country. President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak with Mr. Putin later Friday by telephone.

Snowden -- encamped in a transit area at Sheremetyevo airport for nearly three weeks -- had previously expressed interest in seeking asylum in Russia. But he withdrew the bid after Mr. Putin said the request would only be considered if Snowden agreed to stop leaking details about the U.S. surveillance programs being conducted by the National Security Agency.

As details of his airport meeting became public, the Kremlin reiterated that Snowden could stay in Russia if he stopped the disclosures.



Snowden called the meeting at the airport to talk about what he says is "threatening behavior" by the United States to keep him from gaining asylum. Several human rights activists attended, including representatives of the Russian offices of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, attorneys and a Russian lawmaker.

Snowden has not been seen publicly since he arrived at Sheremetyevo June 23 after a flight from Hong Kong. In a picture released from the meeting, Snowden looked well, and much like he did during his stay in Hong Kong.

One of the activists at the airport meeting, Tatiana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, quoted Snowden as saying that he did not have any problem with restrictions on his activities if he can stay in Russia because he does not feel he has damaged the U.S., a contention pointedly rejected by Washington.



"In fact he said that he would immediately ask for an asylum here in Russia. He would file his official claim right away, and he wanted the organizations present to intervene with President Putin in support of his asylum claim. He also said that he did not find Putin's remark as regards to the possibility of his getting asylum in Russia problematic because, as he says, he did not do any harm to the United States and he was not planning to do any damage. So yes, he wants to stay here officially, but he perceives it as a temporary state because eventually he would want to move to Latin America.''



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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs