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July 12th, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Witness: Snowden prefers asylum in Venezuela

(CNN) - Admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden met with human rights groups on Friday in Moscow, asking them to lobby the Russian government to grant him temporary asylum until he can travel to Latin America.

"A little over one month ago, I had a family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort," said Snowden at the meeting about his time in Hawaii where he worked as an National Security Agency contractor.

That was before he leaked classified documents on secret NSA telephone and e-mail surveillance programs to media outlets and fled to Hong Kong.

Tanya Lokshina, deputy director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, was at Snowden's meeting and told CNN's Jake Tapper that he referenced Venezuela "several times" as a preferred destination.

“He made it very clear that he would have been there already if not for the interference from the United States,” said Lokshina.

Bolivia has also extended asylum to Snowden and Nicaragua has said it would consider it.

Snowden is believed to have been holed up in a transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since leaving Hong Kong for Russia on June 23.

He also asked the groups to convince the United States to abandon efforts to block his attempts at asylum.

"He cannot stay in the airport in Moscow indefinitely, so he is trying to find a solution," said Lokshina.

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