Snowden to stay in airport for now

2013-07-24 17:25
NSA leaker Edward Snowden, at a news conference in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. (Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch/ AP)

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, at a news conference in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. (Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch/ AP)

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Moscow - A lawyer advising National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says his asylum status has not been resolved and that he is going to stay at the Moscow airport for now.

Anatoly Kucherena, who was visiting the American at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Wednesday, said that migration officials are still looking at this asylum request and that this process had been drawn out.

Kucherena said that Snowden is staying in the transit zone "for now" and "intends to stay in Russia, study Russian culture."

The lawyer did not immediately comment on a Russian news report that said Snowden had received a document earlier on Wednesday allowing him to enter Russia from the airport.

The American applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week after his attempts to leave the airport and fly out of Russia were thwarted. The United States wants him sent home to face prosecution for espionage.

Snowden, who revealed details of the NSA's wide-ranging spying activities targeting data and phone communication, is believed to have been staying at the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since 23 June, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unidentified security official as saying that Snowden was given the document on Wednesday, allowing him to formally enter Russia.

Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer advising Snowden, arrived at the airport on Wednesday to meet the NSA leaker, but refused to comment before the meeting.

However, he told Russia's Rossiya-24 television that he has brought several books for Snowden to read, including one by Anton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment.

The novel is about the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of a poor ex-student who kills a pawnbroker for her cash, and Kucherena said Snowden might find it interesting. But the lawyer added: "I'm not implying he's going through a similar mental anguish."

President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden can be granted asylum in Russia only if he stops leaking NSA secrets.

A spokesperson for Russia's Federal Migration Service told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it had no information about the status of Snowden's application for asylum.

Granting Snowden asylum would add new tensions to US-Russian relations already strained by Washington's criticism of Russia's pressure on opposition groups, Moscow's suspicion of US missile-defence plans in Europe, and Russia's resistance to proposed sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Read more on:    nsa  |  edward snowden  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  privacy

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