MOSCOW, August 1 (RIA Novosti) – The news that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia received mixed response from human rights advocates Thursday.
The head of Amnesty International’s Moscow office said the human rights organization welcomed Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, who had been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than a month before finally leaving the airport Thursday.
“We view this [decision] positively,” Sergei Nikitin told RIA Novosti, adding that Amnesty International was against Snowden’s extradition to the United States, where “he may face an unfair trial and confinement conditions that can be considered torture.”
Meanwhile, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, said she had sympathy for Snowden because he had been granted asylum in Russia, where, she said, freedom of information is more infringed upon than in the United States.
“As for his fate, I can say that I certainly have sympathy for him because he has performed a deed for the sake of the freedom of information. But because of this deed, he got out of the United States into Russia, where freedom of information is being infringed upon to an immeasurably greater extent than in America,” she told RIA Novosti.
Snowden is wanted in the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about US National Security Agency surveillance programs that allegedly targeted millions of Americans. Washington had repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request and send him back to the United States to stand trial.