With standing offers of asylum but no way to get to Latin America, leaker extraordinaire Edward Snowden is requesting assistance from human-rights groups. This morning at 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. in Russia — Snowden is reportedly hosting a meeting at the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where he's been hiding since June 23, having invited Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Transparency International.
"I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders," Snowden wrote in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the U.S. Government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
Snowden said U.S. attempts to extradite him — even after President Obama said he would not be "scrambling jets" — are "a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution." The ACLU, in an article yesterday, argued that the U.S. is setting a "very dangerous precedent," both by revoking Snowden's passport and ignoring international law.
Today, Snowden wrote, he will make a "brief statement" prior to a "discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation."
"I'm planning to go," the head of Amnesty International Russia told the Guardian. "I'm not sure this is for real, but compelled to give it a try," a rep for Human Rights Watch wrote on Facebook. "Wouldn’t want to create an impression that HRW is not interested in what Snowden has to say."
It's already a madhouse at the airport: In the words of one Russian journalist, "Here it's hell."
ВОТ ОН АД pic.twitter.com/JRtwdQQvRQ— Никита Баталов (@nikbatalov) July 12, 2013
Update: At the meeting, Snowden said he plans to seek temporary asylum in Russia and hopes to travel to Latin America eventually. "I am only in a position to accept Russia's offer because of my inability to travel," he said, noting that he'd received offers from Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said Snowden hopes that international organizations will petition the United States to allow his travel.
Most importantly, here are some new pictures of the guy:
Update II: WikiLeaks has the full text of Snowden's statement. Here's the end:
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.