• Snowden to meet Russian rights activists, lawyers

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    MOSCOW: Fugitive United States (US) intelligence leaker Edward Snowden will on Friday meet with leading Russian rights activists and lawyers at the airport in Moscow where he has been stuck

    in transit for nearly three weeks.

    Several campaigners said they will attend the meeting after receiving an invitation from Snowden, in what will be the former government contractor’s first publicized encounter since he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.

    According to the purported invitation from Snowden posted on social media by one activist, the fugitive wants to discuss his “next steps” forward.

    He also rails against the “unlawful campaign” against him by Washington which is seeking his extradition after he leaked details of pervasive US intelligence surveillance

    Those invited included representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Transparency International as well as several prominent lawyers working in Moscow.

    “I can confirm that Mr Snowden will hold a meeting with rights representatives on the territory of the airport,” said Sheremetyevo spokeswoman Anna Zakharenkova.

    “We will provide access and premises,” she added, declining to provide further details.

    Snowden has made no public appearances since arriving at the state-controlled airport in the Russian capital on June 23. According to officials, he has spent the whole time in the airport transit zone.

    Sergei Nikitin of the Moscow branch of Amnesty International said he received an e-mail inviting his group and said “we are planning to go.”

    Elena Panfilova of Transparency International said the “somewhat unexpected” invitation was being discussed. She said the e-mail had come from an apparently secure email address in Snowden’s name.

    Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch in Moscow said on her Facebook page that she had also received an invitation from Snowden although she could not yet confirm “it was real.”

    Kristinn Hraffnson, spokesman for the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website which is supporting Snowden, said that he could not confirm that the meeting was planned.

    Leftist Latin American states are seen as the most likely destination for Snowden, who has applied for asylum in 27 countries.

    Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua has all expressed readiness to consider giving Snowden asylum.

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