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Snowden awaits Russia's nod on extended asylum: lawyer

Posted on Jul 31 2014 | IANS

Moscow, July 31 : Fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is still awaiting the Russian authorities' decision either to extend his temporary asylum in Russia for another year or grant him political asylum, his lawyer said Thursday.

"Edward still remains in Russia and we have prepared and submitted a package of documents asking for the permission of a temporary political asylum for him," Anatoly Kucherena said in an interview with LifeNews television channel.

The Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) granted Snowden one-year permission for temporary asylum in Russia Aug 1, 2013. The permission expires July 31.

"The Federal Migration Service must abide by particular procedures," Kucherena said. "We hope that the issue will be resolved today or tomorrow."

The news that Snowden filed the request to prolong his stay in Russia for another year was initially given by Kucherena July 9.

The FMS declined to comment on the issue of Snowden's permission for asylum saying that the information was confidential and also did not specify whether the fugitive ex-intelligence agent had asked for temporary or political asylum.

"We are not commenting on this information," a spokesperson for the FMS told ITAR-TASS.

In line with the Russian legislation, the terms of temporary and political asylums have different meanings and statuses.

Temporary asylum is granted by the FMS for a period of one year, can be annually extended for another year and gives the right to live and work in Russia, whereas political asylum can be granted by a presidential decree only.

The US accuses Snowden, 31, of leaking information on the US National Security Agency's (NSA) secret surveillance programme to the media.

Despite US extradition requests, he was granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia after spending more than a month in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow.

He has reportedly found a website maintenance job and resides at an undisclosed location in Russia.

The US authorities say Snowden violated two clauses of a 1917 law on espionage by divulging some secret data related to national defence and by deliberately transferring US intelligence data to individuals not authorised to obtain such data. Snowden is also charged with stealing US government property.

Should he turn up on American soil, he faces ten years in prison on each charge.

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