Skip to main content

Snowden can't leave Moscow airport yet, lawyer says

By CNN Staff
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Kerry presses Russia on Snowden
  • His lawyer says Snowden hasn't received papers to leave Moscow's airport
  • Snowden's U.S. passport has been revoked; he's been at the airport since June 23
  • He's charged with espionage in the United States after admitting he leaked data

(CNN) -- Edward Snowden isn't yet allowed to step outside the Moscow airport where he's been holed up for weeks, despite reports to the contrary, his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said Wednesday.

Russian media had reported Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence leaker was issued a document that would allow him to wait elsewhere in Russia while his request for temporary asylum was considered.

But Kucherena, after meeting with Snowden in Sheremetyevo International Airport's transit area Wednesday, told reporters that Snowden hadn't received the certificate and that he would remain in the transit area for now.

That certificate still could come at "any time," Kucherena told CNN.

Interactive: Snowden's options

The news is the latest development in Snowden's search for a place to settle after the United States charged him with espionage.

President Carter comments on Snowden
Lawyer: Snowden can't leave airport yet
Has media focused too much on Snowden?
"Concrete proof" of Snowden damages

The former National Security Agency contractor, who admitted last month to revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media, left Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23. Since then, he's been unable to leave the airport's transit area because the United States revoked his passport.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday the U.S. government is seeking "clarity" about Snowden's status. And a spokeswoman for Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would find it "disappointing" if Snowden were allowed to leave the airport.

Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday morning, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"He reiterated our belief, which we stated publicly and privately, that Mr. Snowden needs to be returned to the U.S., where he will face a fair trial," Psaki said.

CNN exclusive: George W. Bush on Snowden

Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16. If granted, he would be able to live in Russia, and even travel abroad, for at least a year, Kucherena said last week.

A ruling on the application could take months. But Kucherena has said that the Russian government could issue him a certificate that would allow him to leave the airport and wait somewhere else in the country while the application is considered.

On Wednesday, Kucherena said that he is in daily contact with Russian authorities about securing Snowden permission to leave the airport, state-run media outlet RIA Novosti reported.

If Snowden is granted temporary asylum in Russia, it's unclear whether he'd try to move elsewhere. He's previously indicated that he eventually wanted refuge in Latin America. But Kucherena suggested last week 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 told CNN last week.

Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia, and FBI agents who work at the U.S. Embassy there have no authority to make arrests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month that Snowden would need to "stop his work aimed at harming our American partners" if he wanted to stay in the country.

In a subsequent meeting with human rights activists and lawyers at the airport on July 12, Snowden reportedly said he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe transit to Latin America, and added that he would not harm the United States in the future.

Official: Snowden didn't access 'crown jewels' of NSA intel

The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia have said their countries would give Snowden 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.

The U.S. government has asked Russia to expel Snowden. Absent that, it will watch carefully the route he takes if he tries to reach one of the Latin American countries willing to take him in.

The United States could grab Snowden if any plane carrying him were to refuel in a country that respects U.S. arrest warrants. But he probably will be careful to avoid that scenario.

Nevertheless, the United States has sent provisional arrest warrants to a number of countries where Snowden could either transit or seek asylum, a U.S. official said last week.

CNN's Phil Black, Alla Eshchenko, Jason Hanna and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Data mining & privacy
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
He's a high-school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
What are the takeaways from Snowden's NBC interview? You might be surprised.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Months after accepting asylum in Russia, Snowden asked Putin about Moscow's own surveillance practices.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
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.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0044 GMT (0844 HKT)
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.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
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.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 0355 GMT (1155 HKT)
The White House is "very disappointed" that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
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.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1139 GMT (1939 HKT)
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.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
The NSA's controversial intelligence-gathering programs have prevented 54 terrorist attacks around the world, including 13 in the United States.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
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.
August 18, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
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.
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere ... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone."
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
President Barack Obama responds to outrage by European leaders over revelations of alleged U.S. spying.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1954 GMT (0354 HKT)
Browse through a history of high-profile intelligence leaking cases.
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Former President George W. Bush talks Snowden, AIDS, Mandela and his legacy.
June 26, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Edward Snowden took a job with an NSA contractor in order to gather evidence about U.S. surveillance programs.
June 19, 2013 -- Updated 1047 GMT (1847 HKT)
With reports of NSA snooping, many people have started wondering about their personl internet security.
August 14, 2013 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Click through our gallery to learn about other major leaks and what happened in the aftermath.
June 9, 2013 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
What really goes on inside America's most secretive agency? CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
ADVERTISEMENT