Edward Snowden met Friday at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow with representatives of several human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He also took questions afterwards.
According to a transcript of the statement tweeted by Wikileaks, the meeting began at 5 PM local time and ran around 45 minutes.
Wikileaks legal advisor Sara Harrison and a translator also attended the meeting with Snowden.
Edward Snowden’s entire Friday statement has been posted online here. But here are a few key excerpts:
“My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates…
“I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
“That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
“Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression…
“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…
“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.”
Ever since his passport was cancelled in the wake of felony charges for espionage and theft, Snowden has repeated the claim that he is stateless. That of course is not true. He remains an American citizen, and the United States would like very much to get him back. Therein lies the whole problem.
Edward Snowden has been trapped in the Moscow airport transit area ever since he fled Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. He can’t leave the transit area without clearing customs — something he hasn’t been able to do without a valid passport.
The governments that have offered asylum to Snowden so far are all located in Latin America. But Snowden has faced the problem of how to board a plane to get to any of those nations without passing through Western European or United States airspace.
The new statement seemed to suggest that Edward Snowden still hopes Russia will provide him with help to let him make the journey.
A full transcript of the question and answer session after the statement isn’t yet available.
However, The Guardian is reporting that Edward Snowden will now agree to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that he stop leaking American secrets in return for temporary asylum in Russia.
Here’s a tweet from the meeting if you’re wondering how Edward Snowden is doing:
— PaulTOwen (@PaulTOwen) July 12, 2013
UPDATE: And here’s an absolutely terrible video from the meeting, which mostly serves to prove to doubters that Edward Snowden is at the airport: