News Column

Snowden to Leave Moscow Airport Soon, Says Lawyer

July 24, 2013

Edward Snowden will "soon" be able to leave the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he has been staying for more than a month, his lawyer said Wednesday.

"He remains in the transit zone under the given rules," Anatoly Kucherena told reporters after meeting the US whistleblower at the airport, Russian agencies reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed airport official as saying that Snowden had been handed a Migration Service certificate enabling him to legally enter Russian territory and that he had handed over "documents" to airport border guards.

But Kucherena later explained that the certificate was held up by unspecified bureaucratic hurdles.

"This needs some time. I am in touch with migration authorities practically every day, they are dealing with this issue," Kucherena told the Rossia 24 state television channel.

The lawyer added that Snowden's case was difficult for migration officials. "This is the first situation of its kind in Russia," he said, adding that he believes that the issue would be solved "soon".

The former National Security Agency contractor has exposed widescale US spying programmes on internet users and against foreign governments, including China and Russia.

Washington has revoked his passport, charged him with espionage and demands his extradition.

Moscow has refused, arguing that there is no extradition treaty with the United States. Earlier this week, Russia accused the United States of harbouring criminals sought by Moscow, including former Chechen separatist leader Ilyas Akhmadov.

Snowden said on July 12 that he would seek asylum in Russia until he can safely travel to Latin America, where he has been offered refugee by Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

However, Kucherena was adamant Wednesday that for the time being Snowden would not travel to another country. "His final destination at the moment is Russia," he said.

Kucherena, a prominent lawyer with close links to the Kremlin, also said that Snowden was prepared to learn Russian and read Russian literature.

He said that he gave him a copy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "Crime and Punishment" and books by Anton Chekhov.

Kucherena said that Snowden had already said "hello," "bye-bye" and "I will call you" in Russian to him.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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