Skip to main content

Snowden applies for temporary asylum in Russia

By Alla Eshchenko and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Lawyer says Edward Snowden could get asylum answer in three months
  • NEW: Snowden might be able to leave airport in days while request is considered
  • NEW: Lawyer indicates Snowden might take time in Russia, despite asylum offers elsewhere
  • Snowden, charged with espionage in U.S., has been in a Moscow airport for 3 weeks

(CNN) -- American intelligence-leaker Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, a move that might soon allow him to leave Moscow's international airport while the request is considered, a Russian lawyer who helped him with the request told CNN.

If the request is granted, Snowden would be able to live in Russia -- and even travel abroad -- for at least a year, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

And, despite previous indications that Snowden eventually wanted refuge in Latin America, Kucherena indicated Tuesday that Snowden might take his time in Russia.

"As far as I know, he's planning to stay in Russia to learn Russian culture, Russian language and (to) live here," Kucherena said.

Snowden applies for temporary asylum
Will Snowden release more intelligence?
Putin opens up on Snowden situation
Snowden called responsible whistleblower

Kucherena told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Snowden "intends to stay in Russia for now."

"I asked him (what his plans were), he doesn't plan to go anywhere just yet," Kucherena said, according to RIA Novosti.

This is the latest in a series of steps that Snowden has made in an attempt to establish a life outside the United States, where he faces espionage charges after publicly admitting that he released documents to the media that exposed U.S. mass surveillance programs.

Kucherena said Snowden wrote the asylum request Tuesday at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he has been holed up for the past three weeks because the United States revoked his passport.

Russia's Federal Migration Service could take up to three months to consider Snowden's request, said Kucherena, a lawyer with a Kremlin advisory body.

Interactive map: Snowden's movements and asylum requests

Within a few days, Snowden should receive a certificate showing that the request is under consideration, and that certificate will allow him to legally leave the airport's transit area, Kucherena said.

Putin: Snowden 'shifting position' on meeting asylum conditions

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, left Hawaii for Hong Kong this year and leaked NSA documents to the media, sparking worldwide controversy over U.S. surveillance programs.

After he publicly identified himself as the leaker last month, he departed Hong Kong for Russia, where he is believed to have been staying in a transit area of the Moscow airport.

Snowden's application may be a shift in his position. About two weeks ago, he reportedly withdrew a request for asylum in Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden would need to "stop his work aimed at harming our American partners" if he wanted to stay in the country.

But on Friday, in a meeting with human rights activists and lawyers, Snowden reportedly said he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe transit to Latin America, and added that he will not harm the United States in the future.

The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia have said their countries would give him asylum, and Nicaragua's president said he would offer it "if circumstances permit." But he would need the legal ability to travel there -- something that temporary asylum in Russia could give him.

Journalist: Snowden has more documents that could harm U.S.

Over the weekend, a journalist who first published the leaked documents said that Snowden has more damaging information that could be a "nightmare" for the U.S. government.

Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian told an Argentine newspaper, La Nacion, that releasing more information to hurt the United States is not Snowden's goal. However, he said, Snowden has a "large number" of documents about software people use "without consciously agreeing to surrender their rights to privacy."

Snowden has given copies of the papers to several people, Greenwald told the paper, according to an English translation.

"The U.S. government should be on their knees every day praying that nothing happens to Snowden, because if something happens, all information will be revealed, and that would be their worst nightmare," he said.

Report: Microsoft collaborated closely with NSA

CNN"s Carol Jordan, Joseph Netto and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Data mining & privacy
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Sun June 23, 2013
He's a high-school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
What are the takeaways from Snowden's NBC interview? You might be surprised.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Months after accepting asylum in Russia, Snowden asked Putin about Moscow's own surveillance practices.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
A federal judge has refused the Obama administration's request to extend storage of classified NSA telephone surveillance data beyond the current five-year limit.
updated 8:44 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
From his sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange said that everyone in the world will be just as effectively monitored soon -- at least digitally.
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Mon March 10, 2014
In a rare public talk via the Web, fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden urged a tech conference audience to help "fix" the U.S. government's surveillance of its citizens.
updated 11:55 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
The White House is "very disappointed" that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
updated 8:57 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
Spies with surveillance agencies in the U.S. and U.K. infiltrated video games like "World of Warcraft" in a hunt for terrorists "hiding in plain sight" online.
updated 7:39 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden both held jobs that gave them access to some of their country's most secret and sensitive intelligence. They chose to share that material with the world and are now paying for it.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
The NSA's controversial intelligence-gathering programs have prevented 54 terrorist attacks around the world, including 13 in the United States.
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
You've never heard of XKeyscore, but it definitely knows you. The National Security Agency's top-secret program essentially makes available everything you've ever done on the Internet.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Sun August 18, 2013
You may have never heard of Lavabit and Silent Circle. That's because they offered encrypted (secure) e-mail services, something most Americans have probably never thought about needing.
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere ... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone."
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
President Barack Obama responds to outrage by European leaders over revelations of alleged U.S. spying.
updated 3:54 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Browse through a history of high-profile intelligence leaking cases.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
Former President George W. Bush talks Snowden, AIDS, Mandela and his legacy.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Edward Snowden took a job with an NSA contractor in order to gather evidence about U.S. surveillance programs.
updated 6:47 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
With reports of NSA snooping, many people have started wondering about their personl internet security.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Wed August 14, 2013
Click through our gallery to learn about other major leaks and what happened in the aftermath.
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Sun June 9, 2013
What really goes on inside America's most secretive agency? CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
ADVERTISEMENT