Russia’s human rights commissioner: Snowden considers himself a patriot

July 12, 2013

Edward Snowden speaks at Moscow's airport. (Tatanya Lokshina/Human Rights Watch)

Vladimir Lukin, a Russian liberal activist serving in the government as human rights commissioner, says that NSA leaker Edward Snowden considers himself an American patriot, according to Moscow-based journalist Olaf Koens. Lukin was one of several attendees at Snowden's meeting Friday at a Moscow airport, where he announced that he will seek asylum in Russia.

Snowden, at his first public appearance since arriving in Moscow in late June, pushed back on criticism from some Americans that his leaks may have crossed a line from serving American public interest to undermining it. "No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the U.S.," he said, according to Human Rights Watch researcher Tatanya Lokshina. "I want the U.S. to succeed."

Those comments may have also been aimed in part at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said that Snowden can stay only if he stops leaking information that damages the United States. Snowden may hope to convince Putin's government that he poses no threat to Russia's relationship with the U.S.

Lukin, for his part, said of Snowden, "He doesn't look very well fed, a skinny guy. But he has a great haircut."

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