The meeting, from July 9 to 11, is being hosted by UK Attorney-General Dominic Grieve QC. Topics on the agenda that have been made known to the public include freedom of expression, social media and contempt of court.

Given the allegations made by Snowden, that the US National Security Agency and the UK GCHQ spy agency conducted snooping on a grand scale and speculation the information has been shared with other members of the Five Eyesthe agenda is probably broader.

The US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, will be aware that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has hit out at the detention in the US of the son of a Russian State Duma member. Russian citizen Roman Seleznyov, who the US suspects of cybercrime and personal data theft, is in custody on the US island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, according to Western District of Washington Assistant US Attorney, Todd Greenberg.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is reported to have demanded an explanation from the US. Roman's father, State Duma member Valery Seleznyov, said: "I am now in negotiations with the Russian Foreign Ministry. Kidnapping is a crime. The country must protect its citizens, and Roman should go back to Russia.”

Five Eyes agenda

In a statement, the UK Attorney General's office confirmed the five nations' Attorneys General would discuss privacy and information sharing in cybercrime investigations and "international co-operation in cross-border investigations and prosecutions".

The UK Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, said: "We will look at how we can collectively help one another to present a coordinated and united front against those who would wish to abuse what is predominantly a force for good.

"This is a fast-developing and highly relevant field for discussion. The rise of the internet and technology means that the world, our individual countries, our jurisdictions are interconnected in ways which were never before possible or imagined."

Ex-NSA contractor Snowden alleged that the NSA was tapping internet data globally under a programme called PRISM and that the UK’s surveillance agency, GCHQ, had access to it under a programme called Project Tempora.

PRISM

PRISM was first publicly revealed in the The Washington Post and The Guardian, based on allegations by Edward Snowden, who had been a National Security Agency contractor. He alleged that the programme involved the widespread data-mining with the involvement of Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype and AOL.

Project Tempora

Snowden claims that Britain's signals monitoring centre has been tapping fibre optic cables in a data-harvesting scheme called Project Tempora. He alleges large volumes of data are drawn from fibre optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed.

It is claimed that the metadata collected by GCHQ - the information about what is being sent, to whom, from whom, when etc. - is being shared among the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance.

Snowden applies for extra time in Moscow

Snowden has asked the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) to extend his stay in Russia, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said on Wednesday. "A procedure stipulated by the Russian law exists; we have gone through the procedure of getting temporary asylum. It ends on July 31, 2014. So we have submitted documents necessary to appeal for extending his stay in Russia," Kucherena told said.

"I will not say for now with which status we would like to get this extension because the decision rests with the Federal Migration Service," Kucherena said, confirming that the request was submitted to a Moscow region FMS office.

(VoR)