Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden (Tanya Lokshina/HRW)

Surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is stuck at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, is planning to submit a temporary asylum request to Russia while he tries to set up for safe passage to Latin America.

During a closed-door meeting with members of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Transparency International, Snowden said he was only in the position to accept Russia's asylum offer because of his inability to travel.

The Kremlin said that the NSA's former IT contractor had withdrawn a previous request for asylum after Vladimir Putin said he would be welcome it only if he stopped "his work aimed at bringing harm" to the US.

Snowden has reportedly received offers of asylum from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador but has been unable to find an air route to any of them that does not go through US airspace or that of a US ally.

"No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US. I want the US to succeed," he said, according to HRW representative Tanya Lokshina.

He said he could not appeal to international organisations because he would have to visit them - an impossibility. Snowden added that he was recognised as an asylum seeker by the UN High Commission on Refugees but not the US.

The fugitive whistleblower emailed a request for a meeting to leading human rights organisations, asking them to petition the US and the EU not to interfere with his asylum process.

Snowden, who has been stripped of his US passport, has been trapped in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since 23 June after flying in from Hong Kong, from where he leaked top secret documents detailing the NSA's Prism surveillance programme.

His attempts to gain political asylum in Ecuador, whose London embassy is currently sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, failed amid intense US pressure and disagreements within the Ecuadorian government.


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