MOSCOW, (Xinhua): Speculation that fugitive U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden had been granted approval to leave Sheremetyevo airport’s transit zone was quashed by his lawyer Wednesday.
Anatoly Kucherena told reporters after meeting Snowden in the Terminal E of the airport that the Federal Migration Service (FMS) had not yet granted the necessary certificate.
“The issue is not resolved … This situation is unique for Russia,” he said, adding that “Snowden has expressed his understanding of this.”
The Public Chamber member said Snowden would not contact media representatives in the near future for security reasons.
“Of course, he intends to meet the press when the question of his status is finally clarified,” he said, adding Russia was still Snowden’s ultimate destination.
Meanwhile, Kucherena did not rule out the possibility Snowden could receive approval for free movement in Russia “any time.”
The most important thing for Snowden was to wait for the FMS’s final decision, and he could appeal if the service rejected the application, he said.
The former CIA contractor had been learning Russian, and could utter simple phrases during their talks, the lawyer said, adding Snowden wanted to find a job here.
Kucherena said he had given Snowden some clothes and several Russian books, including the Fyodor Dostoevsky classic novel, Crime and Punishment.
He also told Snowden a number of Russian girls had a crush on him. The latter responded with laughter.
The lawyer said his next meeting with Snowden would depend on ” when he asks me to come.”
Eugeny Varshavsky, a former head of the FMS Department for Legal Support, told Xinhua that Snowden was eligible to request a political asylum, and the delay of the certificate did not necessarily mean that his application had been rejected.
“The situation around Snowden is a high-profile case … The FMS needs to receive ‘yes or no’ advice from upper authorities,” Varshavsky said.
He noted that “if the political will is manifested clearly, the FMS will make a swift decision.”
Krasheninnikova deemed it an impetus for Russia’s international image if it approves the application. “The world will see that Moscow defends human rights and other universal rules.”
“Of course, any country assisting Snowden would face U.S. pressure,” the lawyer added.
The White House said Wednesday that the United States was seeking an explanation from Russia on the status of Snowden.
“We’re seeking clarity,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, adding Washington had made clear to Moscow its desire to see Snowden returned to the U.S. to face espionage charges.
Carney stopped short of saying whether Snowden’s status would impact President Barack Obama’s plans to travel to Russia in September for the G20 summit.