Official: Snowden wants Russian asylum

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(AP)

A Russian parliament member who was among the figures meeting with Edward Snowden says the NSA leaker plans to seek asylum in Russia.

Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters of Snowden’s intentions after he and a dozen other prominent officials and activists met Friday with Snowden in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where Snowden has been marooned since June 23.

American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden met with human rights activists and lawyers Friday in a transit zone of a Russian airport, in his first public appearance since he left Hong Kong last month.

He has asked the rights groups to lobby the Russian government to grant him temporary asylum, Russian Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina said.

A photograph provided by a Russian Human Rights Watch staffer at the meeting shows him sitting behind a desk, looking much as he did when last photographed.

The former National Security Agency contractor is believed to have been holed up in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since leaving Hong Kong for Russia on June 23.

The meeting with Snowden began at around 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET).

A CNN team at the airport saw about half a dozen people — including Russia’s human rights ombudsman and representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Russian human rights groups — enter a door marked “Private” in Terminal E.

Police and security officers are now guarding the door and keeping the media at a distance.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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