Whis­tle-blower talks of US threat

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

MOSCOW: For­mer in­tel­li­gence agency con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den asked to meet hu­man rights groups at a Moscow air­port yes­ter­day to dis­cuss “threat­en­ing be­hav­iour” by the US to pre­vent him gain­ing asy­lum.

The meet­ing would be the first of its kind since Snow­den flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23. He has been stranded in the tran­sit area of Shereme­tyevo Air­port ever since, un­able to take up asy­lum of­fers from Third World coun­tries.

Snow­den is wanted by Wash­ing­ton on es­pi­onage charges for di­vulging de­tails of se­cret US sur­veil­lance pro­grammes.

“In re­cent weeks we have wit­nessed an un­law­ful cam­paign by of­fi­cials in the US Govern­ment to deny my right to seek and en­joy this asy­lum un­der Ar­ti­cle 14 of the Univer­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights,” Snow­den wrote.

“The scale of threat­en­ing be­hav­iour is with­out prece­dent,” read a post on Face­book.

The Krem­lin has kept Snow­den at arm’s length, say­ing he had not en­tered Rus­sian soil. Snow­den with­drew a re­quest for asy­lum in Rus­sia af­ter Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin ad­mon­ished him for do­ing work that was harm­ful to “our Amer­i­can part­ners”.

Putin has said Snow­den should choose a fi­nal des­ti­na­tion and go there as soon as pos­si­ble, but it is un­clear how he would get to any of the three Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries of­fer­ing asy­lum.

Bo­li­vian Pres­i­dent Evo Mo­rales’s of­fi­cial jet had to land in Aus­tria af­ter de­part­ing from Moscow, amid sus­pi­cions that Snow­den was on board, trig­ger­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that Wash­ing­ton had asked Euro­pean coun­tries to bar the flight from their airspace.

“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,” wrote Snow­den.

Snow­den said the meet­ing was in­tended to dis­cuss “the next steps for­ward in my sit­u­a­tion”, but did not dis­close de­tails.

Var­i­ous hu­man rights groups con­firmed they had been in­vited to at­tend. This in­cluded Hu­man rights groups Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional and Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

“I have re­ceived a brief email. It said that he would like to meet a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion – there was not much in­for­ma­tion there. I’m plan­ning to go,” said Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Rus­sia. – Reuters

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