Edward Snowden ‘requests’ human rights groups meeting

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has requested a meeting with human rights groups in Moscow, Russian officials say.

Mr Snowden wants to meet them later on Friday at Sheremetyevo airport, where he is thought to be staying.

The former CIA contractor is wanted by the US on charges of leaking secrets about US surveillance schemes.

He has sent requests for political asylum to at least 21 countries, most of which have turned down his request.

However, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have indicated they could take him in.

Mr Snowden planned to make a statement on Friday, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed airport source as saying.

The American, who has been stuck in transit since arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong on 23 June, has sent meeting requests to leading human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“I can confirm that such a meeting will take place,” an airport spokeswoman said.

Sergei Nikitin, the head of Amnesty International’s Russia office, confirmed he had received an invitation and planned to attend the gathering.

Prominent Moscow lawyer Genrikh Padva is also reported to have been invited.

Washington wants to prosecute Mr Snowden over the leaking of thousands of classified US intelligence documents.

The leaking of classified intelligence documents has led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data.

The case has strained relations between the US and China.

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was “disappointed” that China had chosen not to hand over Mr Snowden to the US authorities when he was in Hong Kong in June.

A US government official said the decision had undermined calls for co-operation between the two countries

But China said Hong Kong – which allowed to Mr Snowden to leave Russia – had acted in accordance with the territory’s law.