Snowden submits request for asylum in Russia
MOSCOW -- Edward Snowden submitted a request on Tuesday for temporary asylum in Russia, his lawyer said, claiming he faces persecution from the U.S. government and could face torture or death after his National Security Agency leaks.
WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling site that has been advising Snowden, and Russia's Federal Migration Service confirmed the application request. The service is required to consider the application within three months, but could do it faster.
Snowden, who revealed details of a U.S. intelligence program to monitor Internet activity, argued in his application that "he faces persecution by the U.S. government and he fears for his life and safety, fears that he could be subjected to torture and capital punishment," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said on Rossiya 24 television.
Kucherena told The Associated Press he met the former NSA systems analyst in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport to give him legal advice. He said Snowden made the request after the meeting.
Snowden has been stuck there since he arrived June 23 on a flight from Hong Kong. He's had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But, because the U.S. has revoked his passport, the logistics of reaching his choice country are complicated.
He said Friday at an airport meeting with Russian rights activists and public figures, including Kucherena, that he would seek at least temporary refuge in Russia until he could fly to one of the Latin American nations.
Temporary asylum would allow Snowden to travel and work freely in Russia, Kucher-ena said. He chose to apply for temporary asylum and not political asylum because the latter takes longer to consider.
Kucherena added that Snowden said he had no immediate plans to leave Russia. According to Russian law, temporary asylum is provided for one year and could be extended each year.
Snowden's stay in Russia has strained relations between Moscow and Washington. Granting him asylum would further aggravate tensions with the United States, less than two months before President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama are to meet in Moscow and again at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
On Monday, Putin described Snowden's arrival as an unwelcome present foisted on Russia by the United States. He said Snowden intended only to transit to another country, but that the United States intimidated other countries into refusing to accept him, effectively blocking the fugitive from flying farther.