MOSCOW — American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told CNN.
WikiLeaks, a group that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website, also posted on its official Twitter account Tuesday that Snowden applied for a “temporary protection visa” in the country. Snowden is charged with espionage in the United States and apparently has been holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport for about three weeks.
Kucherena, a lawyer with a Kremlin advisory body, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden wrote the request in his presence and then gave it to a Federal Migration Service representative at the airport.
Snowden said Friday that he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe passage to Latin America, where he seeks longer-term refuge.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, left Hawaii for Hong Kong earlier this year and leaked documents to the media that exposed U.S. mass 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.
He technically has been a free man while at the airport but has been unable to travel after U.S. authorities revoked his passport when the United States charged him with espionage.
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