Airport Official: Edward Snowden to Meet with Human Rights Groups
The Guardian via Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Several international and Russian human rights organizations have been invited to a meeting at Sheremedevo International Airport in Moscow Friday afternoon by someone claiming to be fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
A spokesperson for the airport confirmed to ABC News that the meeting will take place and that they will escort invitees to the transit side of the airport, past passport control, where Snowden is said to be hiding.
The email invites “Human Rights organizations and other respected individuals” to come to the airport for a meeting at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) for “a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation,” according to a copy provided to ABC News.
An email from ABC News to the address that sent the invitation has not yet received a reply to a request for verification, but a spokesperson for the airport confirmed there would be a meeting with Snowden.
The man who answers the cellphone number included in the instructions confirmed the meeting was taking place, but would only identify himself as Alexey and said he works for the airport administration. Alexey said members of the press will not be allowed to attend the meeting.
Invitees are instructed to meet in one of the airport terminal arrival halls at 4:30 p.m. local time and look for a member of airport staff holding a sign, who will then escort them to the meeting. It does not say where the meeting will take place, but Snowden is said to be hiding somewhere on the transit side of the airport.
The email says “security will likely be tight” and limits organizations to sending no more than three representatives.
There are some indications, however, that the email may not have been written by Snowden himself. It contains, for example, at least two British-isms. It spells center as “centre” and asks invitees to call the airport “on” a number, rather than “at” a number.
Human Rights Watch confirmed to ABC News that they received the invitation, but had doubts about its authenticity. They plan to be at the airport just in case it is real. The Amnesty International office in Moscow declined to comment when reached by ABC News.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, invitations have also been received by members of Transparency International, a Polish human rights organization, the United Nations in Russia, the Russian human rights group “Resistance,” a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Olga Kostin, and Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin.
Lukin told Ekho Moskvy radio that he plans to attend and believes Snowden will request assistance from the International Committee for the Red Cross and the United Nations to get travel documents that would allow him to leave the airport for asylum offers in Latin America.
A Kremlin spokesman reportedly said they were not invited.
At least some, if not all of the invitations, were sent on Thursday evening.
“I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world,” the email said.
“Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the U.S. Government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign President’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution,” it concluded.
It is signed “Edward Joseph Snowden.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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