MOSCOW (USA TODAY) -- National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden ran into
bureaucratic snags in his bid for temporary political asylum and was
unable to leave his airport refuge as he had hoped, his lawyer said
The 30-year-old former defense contractor, who fled
first to Hong Kong and then Russia, has been holed up in the transit
zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23.
Kucherena, Snowden's Russian lawyer, said after meeting with his client
that Snowden is staying in the transit zone "for now" and "intends to
stay in Russia, study Russian culture."
"Snowden looks well. I
can't say he is happy or sad. He is in a situation when he is waiting
for Russia's decision. He asked what to do next if he is refused asylum
in Russia. He's trying to be brave," said Kucherena, according to Voice of Russia.
applied for political asylum on July 16. Kucherena had said earlier
Wednesday that it appeared likely that Snowden would get the papers he
needed to live temporarily in Russia pending a final decision.
the situation that has come about is not standard for Russia, (we are)
facing some bureaucracy: the documents are still being considered. ...
We will wait and hope that the issue will be resolved in next several
days," RIA Novosti quoted Kucherena as saying.
The state news
agency, citing unidentified sources, had reported earlier that Snowden
had received the Federal Migration Service documents he needed to be
able to live temporarily in the country.
Kucherena said a key
certificate that is normally issued five days after an asylum seeker
submits an application has taken longer in Snowden's case. The American
did receive some FMS paperwork, the lawyer said, but not one that allows
him to leave the transit zone.
As part of the procedure for obtaining temporary asylum, Snowden had his fingerprints taken, the news agency reported.
if Snowden is able to leave the airport, a final decision on his
request for political asylum is expected to take at least three months.
After meeting with Snowden, Kucherena told Rossiya-24 channel that the paperwork was still held up.
would like to learn about Russia. I gave him books," Kucherena said.
"He is still in the same shirt and jeans that he wore when he arrived."
He also said that Snowden is spending much of his time at the airport studying Russian.
faces U.S. charges under the Espionage Act for leaking information to
reporters about the NSA's surveillance and data-gathering network.
Snowden has said he took the step to "correct this wrongdoing."
House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the Obama
administration, which wants Snowden returned to the U.S., is "seeking
clarity" from Russia on his status and whether he can leave the airport.
Kucherena arrived at the airport Wednesday afternoon carrying a large paper bag, apparently containing paperwork in the case, RT.com reported.
He said he had also brought Snowden copies of Russian literature.
"I bought him Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment,
because I think that Raskolnikov, who killed the old pawnbroker woman ...
I think he needs to read about that," he told Rossiya-24 channel. "I
don't want to say there are similarities in inner contradictions, but
still ... This is a world classic, and it will be interesting for him.
And for dessert, I got him Chekhov."
In anticipation of a break in
the case on Wednesday, Snowden had packed a single backpack with
clothes and had left the capsule hotel in the transit zone where he has
been for a month.
Snowden, whose U.S. passport has been revoked,
has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua but has
found difficult to travel to those countries.
RT.com earlier Wednesday that Snowden may decide to become a permanent
resident in Russia rather than stay in the country seeking an
opportunity to get asylum elsewhere.
"He's planning to arrange his
life here. He plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further
decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in,"
the lawyer told RT.com.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll
found that 53% of Americans favor bringing criminal charges against
Snowden, up from a June poll that found a plurality of 48% opposed to
charging him with a crime.