Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden emerged from hiding in Moscow airport Friday to petition human rights groups to help him seek temporary asylum in Russia.
Snowden met with rights groups at 5pm local time in Moscow to discuss his future plans.
The conference was the first time he has been seen publicly since he first arrived from Hong Kong late June.
In an open letter released Friday, Snowden expressed gratitude for the support and the offers of asylum he received.
He also railed against “officials in the U.S. government” seeking to deny his “right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
He also criticized the grounding of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ jet in Austria, calling the U.S. government’s actions “threatening behavior” and “unprecedented,” according to NBC News.
“This dangerous escalation represents 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,” Snowden said.
Human Rights Watch reports that Snowden plans to seek temporary asylum in Russia, then travel to Latin America.
Three Latin American countries — Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela — have offered asylum to the 30-year-old American fugitive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has refused to extradite Snowden, said July 1, “Snowden is free to go but if he decides to stay, he has to stop his work directed to hurt our American partners.”
Human Rights Watch called upon the U.S. government to “protect people who use classified or other sensitive government information to expose what appear to be serious human rights violations and other government wrongdoing.”
In a statement Friday, the organization also said that any country “that speaks up in Snowden’s defense should also guarantee the free speech rights of its own citizens, critics, and whistleblowers and the right of its own people to freedom of information.”
Russian lawyer Genri Reznik said that Russian law allows for political asylum, NBC News reports.
“The values in the constitution of the U.S. and Russia are similar, so I don’t think that there could be a lengthy conflict if Russia grants him asylum,” said Reznik.
Video at linkhttp://dailycaller.com/2013/07/12/snowden-emerges-from-hiding-seeks-temporary-asylum-in-russia/