MOSCOW: Russia’s Immigration Service has reportedly granted entry permission to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been stranded at a Moscow airport since last month, reports RT News.
“The American is currently getting ready to leave. He will be given new clothes. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena will bring the papers he needs to leave the transit zone of the airport,” says Interfax citing a source familiar with the situation. The migration service would not immediately confirm the information.
Kucherena, who arrived at the airport at about 4pm Moscow time, had a large paper bag with him. According to ITAR-TASS, he indeed carries all the paperwork needed for Snowden’s release. He went straight to meet the whistleblower in the transit zone without taking time to speak to the journalists, saying he would do so only after consulting with him.
Kucherena and Snowden are currently conversing in the transit zone, according to an Interfax source.
Snowden, who had been living in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport since the day he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23, applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week.
His request followed weeks of searching for a way to leave the country, which he intended to pass briefly on his way to another destination and where he was stranded because the US revoked his travel passport.
It took Russian immigration authorities a week for an initial assessment of the asylum request. Apparently they decided to proceed with the request and issued Snowden provisional documents to that effect.
“When he gets those documents in his hands, he will be released from his temporary home at Sheremetyevo Airport and will be able to go freely about the Russian Federation,” explains RT’s Lindsay France from the airport.
Earlier Kucherena said Snowden may decide to become a permanent resident in Russia rather than stay there seeking an opportunity to get asylum elsewhere.It can take up to three months to either grant or reject the asylum request. If granted, temporary asylum would allow Snowden to remain in Russia for one year and be renewed annually. If the request is rejected by the Immigration Service, Snowden may appeal the decision in court.
“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,” he told RT.
Edward Snowden is wanted in the US over leaking classified documents detailing the massive surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. He is facing espionage charges if handed over to US custody. The US has been applying diplomatic pressure to countries which voiced their intention to harbor the fugitive.