Snowden, who has been holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving from Hong-Kong on June 23, was not handed paperwork allowing him to leave the transit zone, as was widely expected on Wednesday.
"The paper is not a document, his [asylum] request can be considered for up to three months,” RIA Novosti quoted lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as saying on Wednesday after meeting with Snowden.
Kucherena, who helped Snowden submit his application for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16, met with him on Wednesday afternoon to update him on his application status and hand over some books and clothes.
Snowden has been in the same shirt and jeans since arriving, Kucherena said, adding that he bought him new shirts and pants. Kucherena also brought Russian literature, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov, and told media that Snowden was learning Russian.
According to earlier reports, the Federal Migration Service had issued a document that would allow Snowden to leave the transit area.
But Kucherena emerged from his meeting alone, and said that Snowden would remain at Sheremetyevo for now.
"As soon as we get the document, I will let you know,” he said in televised comments carried by the Rossiya-24 channel.
By law, authorities are supposed to issue a preliminary response within five days, but this is apparently taking longer due to the complexity of the case, according to Kucherena. The Federal Migration Service has to issue a final response within three months.
"Right now, he plans to remain in Russia. The final [destination] for him for now is Russia.”
Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency wanted by the United States for leaking reports about its top-secret surveillance program, still feared for his safety, Kucherena said, and would not be giving interviews to journalists.
The Moscow News