PRISM leaker Snowden plans to stay in Russia: Lawyer

31 Jul 2013


National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden's lawyer said, his client's asylum status had not yet been resolved and he intended to remain in Russia long-term.

Earlier, Snowden told local officials that he planned to move on to South America as soon as possible.

Anatoly Kucherena, who visited Snowden at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport today, said he was staying in the transit zone "for now". The lawyer added, emigration officials had said that they were looking at his asylum request, but had not issued the expected confirmation certificate that would allow Snowden to leave the airport. He added, the process of issuing it had been drawn out.

"Unfortunately the current situation is a truly unique one for Russia, and we have to account for the bureaucracy (involved in the process), so his documents are still being looked over," Kucherena told journalists assembled at the airport.

Kucherena told the television station Rossiya 24, that Snowden was seeking to remain in the country and wanted to find work in Russia, travel and somehow create a life for himself. He added, the whistleblower had already started learning the Russian language.

Meanwhile, Snowden's father said the FBI asked him to travel to Moscow to meet his son, who was sought by the US for leaking details of electronic surveillance programmes.

He told Russian state TV, however that he wanted to know the FBI's intentions.

He said his son would not get a fair trial in the US and, if he were in his son's place, he would stay in Russia.

Describing his son as a "true patriot" he said he had "made America a more democratic country" by revealing secret details of the US National Security Agency's surveillance programmes.

The interview was broadcast live, early in the morning, on the Russia 24 news channel. Snowden spoke in English, with a Russian translation.

Snowden remains stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for more than a month as he does not have valid travel documents.

"Edward, I hope you are watching this," Lon Snowden said in the interview.

"Your family is well. We love you. We hope you are healthy, we hope you are well, I hope to see you soon, but most of all I want you to be safe. I want you to find a safe haven."

"I also would like to thank President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for what I believe to be their courage and strength and conviction to keep my son safe," he said.

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