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Snowden plans request for asylum in Russia

US whistleblower Edward Snowden has said he wants to request temporary asylum in Russia. The disclosure emerged as Snowden met Russian rights activists at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

The former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden has requested asylum in Russia, claiming he must do so because he cannot safely leave the country.

Snowden released a statement after meeting lawyers and rights activists at a special area in Terminal F of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Friday.

"I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably," he said.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua recently have offered Snowden asylum, but it remains unclear if he could reach any of those countries without passing through airspace of the United States or its allies.

"Some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law," Snowden said in the statement released by the Wikileaks anti-secrecy group.

Snowden said "this unlawful threat" made it impossible for him to travel to Latin America, where he has been offered asylum, accusing the the US of conducting an illegal campaign to prevent him gaining the protection of another state. The US has sought the extradition of Snowden from both Hong Kong and Russia. "No state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum," Snowden added.

The 30-year-old computer specialist made an earlier request for asylum in Russia, but this was withdrawn after President Vladimir Putin made any offer conditional on the whistleblower ceasing to leak further information.

Snowden has not been seen in public since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong almost three weeks ago. He fled the autonomous territory before his leaks about American Internet surveillance were made public.

rc/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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