Snowden seeks asylum in Russia before trek to Latin America

The self-proclaimed whistleblower issues a statement before human rights organizations in Russia on Friday asking for temporary asylum until he can travel to Latin America.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden Guardian/Screenshot by CNET

Edward Snowden, the figure behind NSA leaks that set the world ablaze with discussions of espionage, is looking for some help from Russia as he tries to make his way to Latin America.

In a statement before human rights organizations in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Friday, Snowden asked for temporary asylum in Russia until he could be allowed to travel to one of several Latin American countries that have granted him full asylum.

"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," Snowden asked of the human rights groups, according to WikiLeaks, which posted the statement. "I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably."

Snowden had previously requested asylum in Russia, but withdrew that request earlier in July after President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden's "work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips."

Since then, Snowden has remained in the Moscow airport. He has yet to pass through Russia's customs, effectively leaving him outside the legal auspices of the country.

As Snowden points out, he has received asylum from several Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. He also announced Friday that he has accepted all asylum offers and any future offers that might come his way.

"By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders," Snowden said.

But before he can get there, Snowden needs to find a way to safely travel to the countries offering him asylum -- a difficult task while the U.S. continues to try and pounce on him. According to WikiLeaks, a "Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr. Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr. Snowden that the US Government does not categorize Mr. Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law."