Snowden officially seeks temporary asylum in Russia

Published: 17th July 2013 09:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2013 09:17 AM   |  A+A-


Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower, has filed an official request for temporary asylum in Russia, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Tuesday.

"Because Snowden cannot leave the transit area of the Sheremetyevo (Airport), he completed all necessary forms, wrote a request and gave it to a Russian Federal Migration Service employee invited there for that purpose," reported Xinhua citing Kucherena.

According to the lawyer, Snowden filled in the application in his presence at 11 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT).

The former US contractor had no plans to go for Latin America after receiving temporary asylum in Russia, the lawyer noted. "Obviously, he hasn't made up his mind yet," he added.

The lawyer said earlier in the day that he had explained to Snowden the Russian law on refugees, the president's decree on political asylum and the government's resolution on temporary asylum, hinting the whistleblower will make his decision soon.

Kucherena and a number of other lawyers as well as rights campaigners met Snowden in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport Friday.

The Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) confirmed it has received an application for asylum from Snowden.

"We confirm the papers have arrived," Interfax news agency quoted FMS spokeswoman Zalina Kornilova as saying.

The application would be considered in three-month time, said FMS head Konstantin Romodanovsky,

According to Kucherena, who has been soliciting Snowden's request, the ex-National Security Agency employee fears that he could face torture and persecution in the US.

"He wrote that he has fears for his life and security, and that he could be subjected to torture or face the death penalty," Kucherena said.

According to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin knows about Snowden's application, but the matter is being handled by the FMS, not even at the director's level.

Putin said Monday that Snowden arrived in Russia territory without invitation as a transit passenger to other countries, and he would "leave Russia when opportunity emerges".

The president noted that Snowden was blocked from further travels after Washington revoked the 29-year-old whistleblower's passport.

According to head of the FMS Public Council Vladimir Volokh, Snowden could be transferred from the Sheremetyevo transit zone to the FMS temporary shelter for refugees while waiting for the authorities' decision.

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