NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will have to stay at a Moscow airport for a little longer as his asylum plea is still being reviewed by Russian Immigration Authorities, according to his lawyer.
Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said that today Snowden will not leave Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, but confirmed that the NSA-leaker will live in Russia. He assured that Snowden is staying in good conditions. Here is video of his lawyer briefly speaking to media in Russian as he leaves airport.
However, Kucherena did not give any specific date when documents should be issued. Asked about reasons for that, he explained that the delay in issuing all necessary documents to Snowden is due to the uniqueness of the situation.
Kucherena, who arrived at the airport at about 4pm Moscow time, had a large paper bag with him. There has been much speculation through the day that the lawyer brought the permission from the immigration authorities to leave the airport.He went straight to meet the whistleblower in the transit zone without taking time to speak to the journalists, saying he would do so only after consulting with him.
Kucherena and Snowden conversed in the transit zone, according to an Interfax source.
Snowden has been then handed over his travel documents from Russia’s Immigration Service, the source told Interfax.
“They talked and Mr. Kucherena handed Snowden a package with documents, among which was the certificate that now allows him to leave the transit zone and go through Russian customs.”
Snowden, who had been living in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport since the day he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23, applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week.
His request followed weeks of searching for a way to leave the country, which he intended to pass briefly on his way to another destination and where he was stranded because the US revoked his travel passport.
It took Russian immigration authorities a week for an initial assessment of the asylum request. Apparently they decided to proceed with the request and issued Snowden provisional documents to that effect.
Earlier Kucherena said Snowden may decide to become a permanent resident in Russia rather than stay there seeking an opportunity to get asylum elsewhere.It can take up to three months to either grant or reject the asylum request. If granted, temporary asylum would allow Snowden to remain in Russia for one year and be renewed annually. If the request is rejected by the Immigration Service, Snowden may appeal the decision in court.
“He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in,” he told RT.
Edward Snowden is wanted in the US over leaking classified documents detailing the massive surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. He is facing espionage charges if handed over to US custody. The US has been applying diplomatic pressure to countries which voiced their intention to harbor the fugitive.