Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said here Friday that he is prepared to refrain from making further revelations about Washington's global electronic spying if Russia grants his request for political asylum.
The 30-year-old has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, when he arrived on a commercial flight from Hong Kong.
Snowden traveled to Russia with plans to board another flight for Cuba en route to asylum in Ecuador, but that plan fell apart and the U.S. government, which is charging him under the 1917 Espionage Act, revoked his passport.
While Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered Snowden refuge, he has struggled to find a way to reach Latin America without crossing the airspace of the United States or its allies.
The man who exposed Washington's targeting of the telephonic and Internet communications of tens of millions of private citizens in the United States and abroad met Friday with Russian human rights activists who came to the airport at his request.
"I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted," he said in a statement released on his behalf by WikiLeaks.
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a lawmaker with Russia's ruling party, said Snowden told him he accepted President Vladimir Putin's condition that the one-time CIA analyst desist from doing additional damage to the interests of Moscow's U.S. "partners."
"He said he hasn't damaged (U.S. interests) in the past, that the media frenzy wasn't his fault and that he has no intention to damage the U.S. government interests as he considers himself an American patriot," Nikonov said after the meeting at the airport.
Russia's national ombud, Vladimir Lukin, said the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross should take charge of protecting Snowden to avert the case's causing strains in Moscow's relations with Washington.
"(Snowden) is not a criminal. He deserves refugee status. It will be better if an international organization grants him that status. It would be better for everyone," Lukin said.
All countries must "respect the internationally guaranteed right to seek asylum," the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said Friday.
"Snowden's case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring respect for the right to privacy," she said in a statement.
"National legal systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations of human rights to express their concern without fear of reprisals," Pillay said.
Last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales spent 13 hours on the ground in Vienna as Austrian officials searched his official plane for Snowden.
The Andean head of state was on his way back to Bolivia after attending a gas producers summit in Moscow.
Portugal, France and Italy had earlier barred Morales' plane from their airspace, apparently on suspicion that Snowden was aboard.