MOSCOW: A Russian senator said on Wednesday that he has launched an appeal to raise funds for fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden whose finances are now running low.
Snowden, who was last week granted asylum in Russia after spending over five weeks in a Moscow airport transit zone, is said by his lawyers to now be at an undisclosed secret location.
Ruslan Gattarov, a lawmaker for Russia’s upper house who heads a committee on data protection, told the Interfax news agency he had already been approached by bloggers and IT entrepreneurs offering funds for Snowden.
“We were saying that Snowden could need money and they were prepared to help him. I got in touch with his representatives and they approved the idea, saying that Snowden’s funds were running out and an appeal for funds was timely,” he said.
Gattarov said a special Internet site could be created to gather the money and indicated that donations for Snowden could come from abroad as well as from Russia.
The United States wants to put Snowden on trial for leaking details of vast American surveillance programs but Moscow has steadfastly refused to hand him over.
US President Barack Obama said late on Tuesday he was “disappointed” by Russia’s decision to award one year’s temporary asylum to Snowden.
Gattarov has previously suggested that Snowden could take up employment with the Russian upper house, the Federation Council, on data protection issues.