The head of Russia's Federal Migration Service has confirmed that the fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has requested temporary asylum in Russia.
Konstantin Romodanovsky told reporters that Snowden submitted his application on July 16, and that his case would be considered within three months as established by law.
Meanwhile, a Kremlin spokesman has said the decision on whether to accept Snowden's application is up to the migration service and not an issue for President Vladimir Putin to decide.
Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who revealed secret U.S. surveillance programs, has been living in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23.
Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who has been working for Snowden, said he submitted his asylum request to a migration service officer who came to Sheremetyevo Airport on July 16.
Kucherena told reporters that it took Snowden some time to file his application "because he does not know our legislation.
"This is why I went to see him twice -- in order to explain everything," he said.
Kucherena also said Snowden chose to apply for temporary asylum because he would have to have waited up to six months in the airport’s transit area for a response to a permanent asylum request.
The lawyer let it be known that Snowden "is tired already of being in the transit zone of the airport" because he has been staying there for nearly a month.
"Should his application be approved, he would be granted refugee status for one year," Kucherena said. "If he decides to extend it he will be able to apply for another year and so on, endlessly. The rights and obligations granted to him would be the same that we have. He would be free to move [within Russia], to work, etc."
Snowden said at a meeting with Russian human rights activists and public figures on July 12 that he was planning to at least for at least a temporary refuge in Russia.
He said he hoped to eventually travel to one of three of Latin American countries that have offered him asylum.
Snowden is currently unable to travel because the United States' government, which wants to put Snowden on trial for espionage, has revoked his U.S. passport.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS, IFX, Reuters , AP, and AFP