Washington: US on Friday reiterated its call for Russia to hand over whistleblower Edward Snowden to face espionage charges back at home. Snowden was charged by Washington with espionage and theft of government property following his disclosure of massive secret phone and internet surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency.

"Our position on Mr Snowden and the felony charges against him and our belief that he ought to be returned to the United States to face those felony charges is as it was, and we have communicated it to a variety of countries, including Russia," a Chinese state run news agency quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying at a press briefing.

"We continue to discuss with Russia our strongly held view that there is absolute legal justification for him to be expelled, for him to be returned to United States to face the charges that have been brought against him for the unauthorised leaking of classified information," Carney added.

Earlier in the day, Snowden, who has been marooned in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival there on June 23, met a group of Russian and foreign human rights activists, lawyers and parliamentarians.

Several participants in the closed-door talks confirmed that Snowden was seeking asylum in Russia.

Snowden seeks asylum in Russia, again

Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden plans to apply for political asylum in Russia, a Russian parliamentarian said on Friday after meeting with the stranded whistleblower.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the State Duma, said that Snowden has accepted the Kremlin's condition that he must stop harming US interests if he wants to stay in Russia, reported a Chinese state run news agency said.

Nikonov was among about a dozen activists and officials who met with Snowden in the transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been marooned for weeks.

Related paperwork for the asylum request would take weeks, said Nikonov, adding that Snowden said he felt safe at the airport.

Earlier reports quoting other sources said that Snowden intends to seek temporary asylum in Russia before he could fly to Latin America eventually.

(Agencies)

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