Edward Snowden will remain in the transit zone of a Russian airport for now, despite earlier news reports today that he’d received clearance to leave.
A lawyer for Snowden arrived at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow Wednesday, carrying a large paper bag as he walked past a horde of reporters and went on to meet privately with the NSA leaker. That sparked speculation and erroneous reports from Russian news outlets that the bag contained the necessary documents and certificate to permit Snowden to leave the transit zone.
But the lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, returned shortly after meeting with Snowden to explain to the waiting crowd that no such exit would occur today, according to the NY Times.
But at about 6 p.m.. Antatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Mr. Snowden with his asylum request, emerged from the transit zone and said that the certificate had not been received.
He did not cite any specific reason for the delay but said officials had informed him that Mr. Snowden’s situation “was not a standard process” and that the paperwork needed to allow him to depart the airport.
Mr. Kucherena said he had met with Mr. Snowden and described him as being in good spirits, with plans to learn Russian. He said he had brought him the copy of “Crime and Punishment.”
The bag Kucherena was carrying contained a change of clothes and the aforementioned book.
Kucherena has also recently stated that Snowden will plan, for the foreseeable future anyway, to live in Russia and get a job. From Business Insider:
“He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job,” Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer with links to the country’s intelligence service (i.e. FSB), told RT. “And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in.”
Several Latin American countries have offered asylum to Snowden, but none can safely be reached by direct commercial flight.
Congress meanwhile is scheduled to take up the issues exposed to the public by Snowden, as it prepares to vote on legislation that would limit the breadth of some of the NSA’s data collection activities.
From CBS News:
As early as Wednesday the House of Representatives will vote on legislation to strictly limit the surveillance powers the National Security Agency has assumed under the Patriot Act. The proposal, written in response to revelations that the NSA collects all of Verizon’s U.S. phone records, has created unusual alliances and sharp divisions in Congress.
The bill would strip the NSA of its authority to collect records in bulk — the security agency would have to show that a specific individual is under investigation before collecting such information. It’s being put up for a vote as an amendment to the 2014 Defense Department appropriations legislation.
Russian officials would not confirm when review of Snowden’s asylum application is expected to be completed.