OOH He likes them–he really likes them (sort of) NSA Edward Snowden has asked for political asylum in Russia, saying he could not fly to Latin America safely, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative who had just exited a meeting with the whistleblower.

According to Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, Snowden seeks to stay in Russia as he “can’t fly to Latin America yet.”

The  NSA leaker asked the HRH activist to intervene with Russian President Putin on his behalf, Lokshina added.

Snowden spoke before the press for the first time since he went into hiding and criticized US for trying to block his asylum.

“I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world,” Snowden wrote in the letter. “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. 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,” he added, referring to the grounding of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ jet in Austria last week amid suspicions that the leaker was on board.

“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,” Snowden said.

According to the Russian president’s office, the Kremlin has not yet received any formal asylum request from Snowden. The conditions for his staying in Russia remain the same as voiced by Vladimir Putin earlier, he added.

“There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners.”

We will stay on this developing story throughout the day.