In a surprise meeting Friday at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, NSA leaker Edward Snowden told human rights groups that he needed their help. He planned to accept an asylum offer in Latin America, but he couldn't get there safely. Until he could, he is seeking asylum in Russia.
[I]n 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. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent …
I invite the Human Rights organizations and other respected individuals addressed to join me on 12 July at 5:00PM at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation.
Braving a solid wall of reporters, the attendees arrived at the airport and were escorted into a private area in the facility's transit area — the secure section to which Snowden has apparently been restricted since arriving in Russia last month. According to the AP, the attendees were: Vyacheslav Nikonov, the Russian MP; Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International Russia; Vladimir Lukin, Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman; attorney Genri Reznik; and Lokshina.
Snowden told the attendees that he'd received asylum offers from five countries: Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. But he worried that travel to those countries was dangerous or impossible, in light of the incident with Bolivia's president. As a result, Snowden will seek asylum in Russia until he could get to Latin America.
Update, 11:15 a.m.: Russia's Life News got a snippet of video from the meeting, surreptitiously recorded by a participant (somewhat ironically). A preview:
Snowden, speaking in a loud voice, is interrupted by the airport's public announcement system. The audience laughs — as does Snowden. "I've heard this many times in the last six weeks."