MOSCOW — American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is likely to leave the transit zone in Moscow’s airport, where he’s been holed up for weeks, “in the next few days,” his lawyer said Wednesday in Russia.
Showden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, from the transit zone in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport where he remains.
He “will leave (the airport) in the next few days because some legal papers are still required to be formalized,” Russian attorney Anatoly Kucherena said in Moscow.
“Therefore I think this issue will be resolved within a week and after this the question of granting him temporary asylum will be decided upon.”
A former National Security Agency contractor, Snowden leaked documents to the media that exposed U.S. mass surveillance programs.
Kucharena, who helped Snowden file his application for asylum, said Tuesday his client might be able to leave the airport while the request is considered.
Within a few days, Snowden should receive a certificate showing that the asylum request is under consideration, and that certificate will allow him to legally leave the airport’s transit area, the attorney said.
It’s not clear whether Russia will decide to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, who’s said he wants to stay there while he awaits safe passage to Latin America.
President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Snowden appeared to be “shifting his position somewhat” when it comes to meeting Russia’s conditions for asylum, according to state news agency Ria Novosti.
He had earlier said that Snowden would have to “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners” if he wanted to stay in the country.
On Wednesday, Putin told reporters in Moscow that ties between the United States and Russia “are far more important” than any intelligence scandal.
Putin said he believes that Snowden “never intended to stay here, in Russia, forever.”
Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23. He has been unable to leave because U.S. authorities revoked his passport after he was charged with espionage in the United States.
The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia have said their countries would give Snowden asylum, and Nicaragua’s president said he would offer it “if circumstances permit.”
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