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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs