U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden will have to stay at a Moscow airport for a few more days longer as his asylum request is still being reviewed by Russian authorities, according to his lawyer.
Anatoly Kucherena, who visited Mr. Snowden in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport on Wednesday, denied earlier reports that his client had already been issued a document allowing him to move freely around Russia while his asylum request was being considered. It may take the Federal Migration Service up to three months to process Mr. Snowden’s asylum plea.
“The case is still being decided. Unfortunately, the situation is non-standard for Russia and we have our bureaucracy: his papers are still being considered. I hope the issue will be resolved in the next few days,” Mr Kucherena told dozens of disappointed journalists gathered at Sheremetyevo in the hope of intercepting Mr. Snowden as he would leave the airport.
The 30-year-old former intelligence analyst formally applied for Russian asylum last Tuesday and migration authorities had a week to issue him temporary permission to leave the airport.
Mr. Snowden arrived in Sheremetyevo from Hong Kong on June 23 and has since been stuck in the international transit area because the U.S. revoked his passport.
According to Mr. Kucherena, Mr. Snowden plans to settle in Russia for good.
“He plans to find a job, travel and settle down,” he said, adding he had given Mr. Snowden some Russian books — Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and some works by Anton Chekhov.
“I also told him that I’m getting many calls from Russian girls offering to give him food and board and he reacted with humour.”
Russia has not yet received any official U.S. request for extraditing Mr. Snowden and will turn it down if it comes, said a source in the Russian security services. “Our reply would be negative because the ex-CIA employee has applied for temporary asylum and cannot be expelled or extradited while his request is being considered,” the source told the Itar-Tass news agency. “If Snowden gets asylum, he will also be protected against deportation under Russian law.”