Snowden Renews Request To Russia For Asylum

Edward Snowden must be having a hard time finding a safe way to get out of Russia without risking interception by the U.S. or nations friendly to the U.S., because he is renewing his request for asylum in Russia:

MOSCOW — Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, met with representatives of international human rights organizations at his temporary Moscow airport refuge on Friday afternoon and appealed for their help in seeking asylum status in Russia until he can safely travel to Latin America.

Breaking his silence and seclusion after having spent nearly three weeks in geopolitical limbo within the international transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, Mr. Snowden told the representatives that “the only way for him to have safety guarantees for temporary stay in Russia is apparently to get an asylum in Russia,” Tanya Lokshina, a Human Rights Watch representative who attended the meeting, said in an e-mail. “So he is asking for one.”

Mr. Snowden had expressed interest in applying for asylum in Russia after his first week at the airport but quickly reconsidered after hearing the Kremlin’s conditions, Russian officials have said. President Vladimir V. Putin, who has not appeared eager to grant Mr. Snowden asylum, has said that Mr. Snowden could stay in Russia only if he agreed to “cease his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners.”

Vyacheslav A. Nikonov, a pro-Kremlin political scientist who attended the meeting, said that Mr. Snowden now seemed comfortable agreeing to that condition. But it remained unclear whether that would mean Mr. Snowden would stop releasing classified American intelligence data. He has said previously that he does not consider such disclosures to be harmful to American interests.

“He said, ‘Yes, he is aware of the conditions, and it is very easy for him to answer ‘yes,'” Mr. Nikonov said. “He agrees with the conditions. First, because all he did to hurt the interests of the United States is in the past, and what the journalists are doing now is not his fault. And second, he has no intention of hurting the United States more, since he is a loyal citizen.”

Genri M. Reznik, a prominent Russian defense lawyer who also had been invited to the meeting, said that there was no evidence of Russian security personnel there. He noted, however, that the government had clearly approved the event, since airport officials collected the attendees’ passports and escorted them to the sector of the airport that is considered an international border zone.

“That’s what we would call ‘political will’ here,” he said. He added that Mr. Snowden appeared healthy and cheerful.

“He spoke like a free man! He was smiling,” Mr. Reznik said.

Sergei Nikitin, an invited representative from Amnesty International, also said Mr. Snowden appeared well, describing his appearance as “entirely cheerful.”

“I asked him if he had enough time to learn some Russian, and he smiled at my joke,” Mr. Nikitin said. “He had a pleasant face.”

Moments after Mr. Snowden made clear that he was seeking asylum in Russia, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told the Interfax news agency that Mr. Putin’s condition is still in force, and that Mr. Snowden could hypothetically remain if he agreed to it.

After the meeting, Anatoly Kucherena, a Kremlin-connected lawyer who also was on the list of invitees, told Russian television that he believed the decision on whether to grant Mr. Snowden asylum could be made within two or three weeks. He said the request must first be addressed to the Federal Migration Service, which will then send its recommendation to a presidential commission that governs citizenship.

Russian officials have suggested more than once that they would like Mr. Snowden to leave Russia, where he fled on June 23 from Hong Kong, one step ahead of an American extradition request to prosecute him on charges he violated espionage laws by revealing classified American surveillance information.

So it looks like Snowden will be spending at least a couple more weeks in the transit area of the Moscow Airport. That has to be some kind of record.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, Quick Takes, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    There is a wealth of material here – some of it is breathtaking. Also, I’m now more convinced than ever that the Russians won’t ask him to share his knowledge of the NSA.

    “He said, ‘Yes, he is aware of the conditions, and it is very easy for him to answer ‘yes,’” Mr. Nikonov said. “He agrees with the conditions. First, because all he did to hurt the interests of the United States is in the past, and what the journalists are doing now is not his fault. And second, he has no intention of hurting the United States more, since he is a loyal citizen.”

    Genri M. Reznik, a prominent Russian defense lawyer who also had been invited to the meeting …. “That’s what we would call ‘political will’ here,” he said. He added that Mr. Snowden appeared healthy and cheerful. “He spoke like a free man! He was smiling,” Mr. Reznik said.

    Sergei Nikitin, an invited representative from Amnesty International, also said Mr. Snowden appeared well, describing his appearance as “entirely cheerful.” “I asked him if he had enough time to learn some Russian, and he smiled at my joke,” Mr. Nikitin said. “He had a pleasant face.”

  2. stonetools says:

    There’s at least one conspiracy theorist out there, arguing that Edward Snowden is a spy in some convoluted intelligence operation. Others talk about hero or traitor. But I’ll take confused young man for $1,000, Alex.
    Edward Snowden clearly did not think beyond “Ill take this stuff, run off to Hong Kong, then watch the national surveillance system crumple in the tidal wave of public outrage created by my revelations”. When the tidal wave didn’t happen, he must have thought “Man, I am in deep doo-doo.” Since then, he’s been desperately improvising.
    His delusions of grandeur probably comes out of living in a self-imposed libertarian bubble in which he, Greenwald, and his hacker friends convinced themselves that the world would see that the NSA was the Greatest Threat to Modern Democracy Evah, and that he would be revered worldwide as a Hero following his revelations . He has found out that the American public and the world just don’t think that way. OOOPS!
    My advice to him? Turn yourself in at the US embassy in Moscow, face the music, and do your time. That might seen harsh, but sometimes you gotta pay the stupid tax. The alternatives could be worse.

  3. stonetools says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I’m now more convinced than ever that the Russians won’t ask him to share his knowledge of the NSA.

    I think that Russia and China both realize that there just isn’t that much there that’s worth p!ssing off the USA. Their own spy networks in the USA probably have all the stuff Snowden has and more, and they don’t want the USA to be stirred up to come after their spies.
    I bet Putin is laughing his a$$ off about the whole affair.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    I think that Russia and China both realize that there just isn’t that much there that’s worth p!ssing off the USA. Their own spy networks in the USA probably have all the stuff Snowden has and more, and they don’t want the USA to be stirred up to come after their spies.
    I bet Putin is laughing his a$$ off about the whole affair.

    I think you’re exactly right. Any nation worth calling itself a nation is busy running sophisticated electronic intelligence gathering operations.

    I still can’t get over how “shocked” Americans are concerning Snowden’s disclosures – we’ve known about this stuff at the very least since 2006, when even the pathetic USA Today reported that the NSA was actively data mining the telecommunication activities of Americans. This is a high-stakes kabuki we’re going through.

  5. stonetools says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I still can’t get over how “shocked” Americans are concerning Snowden’s disclosures –

    The people who profess to be shocked are doing so because they want to “start a debate”. Unfortunately, the general public isn’t interested in debating what is a “First World Problem”.
    Activist: “Isn’t it shocking that the NSA has the capability to read your emails. This is so tremendously important!”
    John Q. Public: “I’m trying to keep a roof over my kids’ heads, so no, I don’t think this is important at all. Plus, I have nothing to hide.”

  6. Jeremy R says:

    Related: Russia just posthumously convicted a gov’t corruption whistle-blower, on trumped up charges, after they beat him to death in pre-trail detention:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/07/11/201120083/death-and-tax-evasion-the-strange-case-of-sergei-magnitsky

  7. Caj says:

    Hey Mr Putin! Put Snowden in a gift box ,tied with a blue bow with this note attached: From Russia With Love. P.S. Don’t return to sender!!

  8. stonetools says:

    Here is a good analysis of the way negotiations might go:

    Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Edward Snowden are locked in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em, with a bundle on the table and cards yet to be turned up.

    It’s a nerve-wracking game often won by the shrewdest bluff, and NSA leaker has just placed his opening bid.

    The problem is, his hole cards aren’t that strong. The game now shifts to Putin’s favor. Obama can only watch.

  9. stonetools says:

    Huh? Please get my innocuous post out of moderation. Thanks.

  10. rudderpedals says:

    I’d just posted that he was on a freighter to South America or in Lubyanka. Talk about way wrong.

    stonetools OTOH looks spot on.

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