Putin puts US ties above Snowden
Updated: 2013-07-18 08:05
Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer assisting Snowden, said Snowden had no plans to leave soon for any of the three Latin American countries that are offering him refuge because of US pressure on its allies to bar his way.
Kucherena said he expected a positive response within a week to Snowden's request for temporary asylum in Russia. That would allow him to stay until he is sure of safe passage to another country. Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered him sanctuary.
"The grounds that he cited in the application ... hardly allow for a refusal of asylum," he told reporters. "He has no plans to go elsewhere. He can't go anywhere, even if he gets a valid passport."
Asked whether Snowden might apply for Russian citizenship, Kucherena said: "He does not rule it out". He said he had given Snowden a children's Russian ABC book to get him started learning the language.
Kucherena quoted Snowden as saying he had expected to be persecuted but had been surprised by the "excessive, disproportionate" response.
The United States on Tuesday repeated its call for Russia to send Snowden back, saying he was not a human rights activist or dissident and was accused of leaking classified information.
In Russia, temporary asylum is granted for a year and can be extended. Unlike political asylum, which would require a decree from Putin, the decision to grant temporary asylum is officially up to the Federal Migration Service (FMS).
The FMS has three months to decide but Kucherena told Reuters he expected Snowden to able to leave Sheremetyevo within a week and that Snowden had given him a verbal promise that he would stop anti-US activities.