By Sheldon Alberts - 07/12/13 11:32 AM EDT
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has invited human rights activists to a Friday afternoon meeting at Moscow’s airport to discuss his future plans, according to reports.
Russia’s human rights ombudsman was also reportedly on the list of invitees.
Several of the invitees believe Snowden has decided to seek asylum in Russia, The Washington Post reported. But there was no independent confirmation of Snowden's intent.
"I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world,” said the invitation from Snowden, according to USA Today. “These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders."
Tanya Lokshina, with Human Rights Watch in Russia, said she was unsure if the invitation was authentic or a fake but planned to go to the airport to find out.
“I’m not sure this is for real, but compelled to give it a try,” Lokshina wrote in a post on Facebook, according to The New York Times. “I wouldn’t want to create an impression that HRW is not interested in what Snowden has to say.”
Snowden, who has been in limbo since he arrived in Russia on June 23, is staying in the Moscow airport’s transit area as a global diplomatic battle wages over his efforts to seek asylum from U.S. prosecution.
Russia has said it won't hand Snowden over to the United States, but has also urged Snowden to find a way out of the Moscow airport. A senior Russian parliamentarian, Alexei Pushkov, has urged Snowden to accept an offer of asylum from Venezuela, saying it may be his "last chance" to find refuge.
The former defense contractor is facing espionage charges for revealing details of two classified domestic surveillance programs that monitor Internet and telephone communications of millions of Americans.
The Post reported that human rights activists who want to meet with Snowden on Friday will need to be escorted through a special corridor in the airport so they don’t have to go through passport control.
Snowden is said to be planning a statement following the meeting.
Several Latin American countries -- including Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua — have offered Snowden refuge. But the 30-year-old American would face tremendous logistical challenges trying to reach any of them.
The Obama administration has been exerting intense pressure on Latin American countries to refuse Snowden asylum, the Times reported Friday, with State Department officials and diplomats across the region warning of lasting consequences to U.S. relations if countries accept him.