The Kremlin's chief human rights adviser has commended fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden as "someone acting in public interests" but dismissed an initiative to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize as an idea that means "his role has been somewhat exaggerated."
"Generally speaking, all this increasingly looks like a Mexican soap opera," Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, told Interfax on Monday. "I wouldn't attach that much significance to this man. In my view, his role has been somewhat exaggerated."
"It's a different story that we should defend him. That is unquestionable, but nominating him for the Nobel Prize appears to me to be spurious," Fedotov said.
The author of the initiative is Stefan Svallfors, a sociology professor at Sweden's Umea University who sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee asking for Snowden to be selected for the prize.
Snowden has leaked large amounts of information on surveillance practices used by the U.S. National Security Agency. He fled to Hong Kong in May but has been holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after flying in from Hong Kong on June 23.
The United States is seeking the extradition of Snowden, whom it has charged with divulging classified information. Snowden has meanwhile asked at least 21 countries for political asylum. Most of them have rejected his request.
At a meeting with rights activists at Sheremetyevo on Friday, Snowden said he was going to seek asylum in Russia in order to be able to travel to Latin America, where Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered him permanent asylum.
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