Snowden seeks temporary asylum in Russia, lawyer says

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen in this image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian June 6. Credit: Reuters
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in Venezuela.
Credit: Reuters

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday after three weeks holed up at a Moscow airport trying to avoid prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

Snowden is seeking refuge in Latin America after leaking details of U.S. government surveillance programs, but has not risked taking any flight that might be intercepted by the United States since flying in from Hong Kong on June 23.

“He reached the conclusion that he needs to write an application for temporary asylum (in Russia), and this procedure has just been done,” Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer who met Snowden on Friday along with human rights activists, told Reuters.

“For now he is not going to go anywhere. For now he plans to stay in Russia,” he said, adding that if Snowden were granted temporary asylum, he should have the same rights as other citizens and be free to work and travel in Russia.

The asylum application could end his time in limbo but risks deepening tension between the United States and Russia, which has refused to expel him to his homeland for prosecution.

The head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) confirmed the agency had received Snowden’s application. Anti-secrecy group Wikileaks, which has been helping Snowden, said on Twitter that he had applied for “a temporary protection visa.”

Snowden, 30, is trapped in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, an area between the runway and passport control which Russia regards as neutral territory.

He said on Friday he would seek refuge in Russia only until he can travel to one of the three Latin American countries ready to give him political asylum — Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

He said the United States and its allies were preventing him from reaching those countries. Washington has revoked Snowden’s passport and urged other nations not to help him reach an asylum destination.

Kucherena said he expected a decision on Snowden’s asylum request “soon,” though the Federal Migration Service has up to three months to decide on the application.

PUTIN’S CONDITIONS

The process for seeking temporary asylum is different from that for political asylum, which Kucherena said would require a decree from President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has rejected repeated U.S. calls to send Snowden to the United States, but has said he does not want the fugitive to harm already strained relations with Washington.

Snowden is useful as a propaganda tool for Putin, who accuses the U.S. government of preaching to the world about rights and freedoms it does not uphold at home.

But Putin has invited President Barack Obama for a summit in Moscow in September and both countries have signaled they want to improve ties.

Putin has said twice that Snowden must stop all activities “aimed at harming our American partners” if he wants political asylum in Russia, but he has not made clear whether the condition applies to temporary asylum as well.

Temporary asylum is granted by the FMS, but Putin would be expected to make the final decision himself, even though he has tried to distance himself from Snowden’s predicament.

Putin said on Monday he hoped Snowden would leave as soon as he could, but left the door open for granting him asylum, saying there were signs the American fugitive was moving towards meeting the conditions he has set.

Temporary asylum can be granted for up to a year, with the possibility of extension.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.