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US secrets leaker 'seeking asylum in Russia'.

EDWARD SNOWDEN plans to seek asylum in Russia, an MP among those meeting the NSA leaker said yesterday.

Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters of Mr Snowden's intentions after he and a dozen other prominent officials and activists met him in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been since June 23 after arriving from Hong Kong.

The activists included Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International's Russia office, and Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch.

Also taken into the meeting room were Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, prominent attorney Genri Reznik, and Nikonov.

They came after an email in Mr Snowden's name was sent yesterday. On Facebook, Ms Lokshina posted the text of the email, which says in part that Mr Snowden wants to make "a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation."

Hundreds of journalists flocked to the airport, but were kept in a hallway outside the meeting area which was behind a gray door marked "staff only."

It was not clear if Mr Snowden would have to come out that door or if he could exit by another route.

The text of the invitation did not directly address the offers of asylum that he has received from Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, although it expressed gratitude for asylum offers and says "I hope to travel to each of them."

It accuses the United States of "an unlawful campaign ... to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum."

Mr Reznik said before the meeting that he expected Mr Snowden called it to seek asylum in Russia.

He made an earlier application for Russian asylum. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said asylum would be conditional on Mr Snowden stopping leaking US secrets; he then withdrew his asylum bid, Russian officials said.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jul 13, 2013
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