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Lawyer: Snowden Not Allowed To Leave Moscow Airport


Former U.S. intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks to human rights representatives at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on July 12.
Former U.S. intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks to human rights representatives at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on July 12.
The lawyer advising Edward Snowden says the former U.S. intelligence contractor does not have a document that would allow him to leave the transit area of a Moscow airport where he has been holed up for a month.

Anatoly Kucherena met Snowden at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on July 24 and said the American was going to stay at the airport for now.

Russian authorities say Snowden filed his asylum request with the migration service on July 16.

"Currently, his [asylum] application is in the hands of the Russian Federal Migration Service. The Federal Migration Service may take up to three months to consider his application in substance," Kucherena said.

"During the period of this consideration, the service issues a certificate that is supposed to be handed to him and that says that his application has been received and is currently under consideration. Such a certificate can practically be issued at any moment. It has not been issued yet."

He said the review process was being drawn out, as this was the "first situation of this kind" in Russia.

Earlier reports on July 24 said Kucherena would hand him the pass that would allow him to legally enter Russia.

Kucherena also said that "currently," Snowden's "final destination" was Russia. "He intends to stay in Russia. He intends to study Russian culture. He would like to explore Russia," he added.

The lawyer also said he had brought his client Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "Crime and Punishment," as well as a book by Anton Chekhov.

U.S. Demands Expulsion

The U.S. State Department has said allowing Snowden to leave the airport would be "deeply disappointing."

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry had telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on July 24 regarding the Snowden case.

The United States last week repeated an appeal to Russia to expel Snowden.

A former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who revealed secret U.S. electronic-surveillance programs that sparked intense debate on privacy and international espionage, Snowden has been offered asylum in several Latin American countries but faces difficulties traveling internationally.

Washington has revoked his U.S. passport and wants him to face charges of theft of government property and leaking classified information.

Separately, the White House said they were seeking clarification from the Russian authorities on the status of the former NSA contractor.

Since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, Snowden has spent the past month in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden must stop leaking information damaging the United States if he wants to stay in Russia.

Meanwhile, Iran's Fars news agency said an Iranian NGO named Justice-Seekers without Borders in a letter to Snowden had invited him to visit Iran and reveal the details of Washington's "espionage operations" against the country.

With reporting by Interfax, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and Fars
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