Snowden Liveblog: Temporary Asylum in Russia?

July 24, 2013
Edward Snowden. Photograph: Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch

10:48 EST: Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, continues to speak to RT.

Snowden is in good spirits, and has thanked, through Kucherena, the journalists who are covering his story “in an objective way.”

Kucherena stressed again the real concerns that he and Snowden share about security, even after Snowden receives asylum.

Kucherena then went on to say that Snowden has spent his free time (which he has plenty of) by studying the Russian language from a book Kucherena passed to him, and Snowden has already learned several words and phrases.

Kucherena then said that if Snowden is granted asylum, he will dedicate himself to human rights activism, a response to what he sees as a degradation of human rights.

10:45 EST: Kucherena is speaking to RT right now. According to Snowden’s lawyer, he did not expect to see this kind of press, as the immigration services are still engaged in a procedure that has not yet been finalized.

According to Kucherena, temporary asylum should be considered for three months. Temporary asylum papers have not been issued, as was earlier reported. He says that “the situtation will be resolved shortly.”

The “bag” that Kucherena delivered Snowden contained some Russia literature (including Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment), and some clothes.

Kocherena says that if asylum is granted, Snowden could travel within Russia without exceptions. Kocherena then went on to praise the literature he gave Snowden.

10:35 EST: RIA Novosti adds that according to Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden has not yet been granted asylum, but his application is under review. Also, Snowden does plan on staying in Russia for some time:

“I asked him [what his plans were], he doesn’t plan to go anywhere just yet, he intends to stay in Russia for now,” Kucherena said.”

10:23 EST: Interfax is also reporting that, according to Snowden’s lawyer, Snowden does intend to stay in Russia, though it is unclear how much time Snowden intends to stay there.

RT is reporting that, under the asylum he has applied for, Snowden would be able to stay in Russia for one year, and would have the ability to renew his asylum annually.

10:16 EST: For all of the excitement, it doesn’t seem like Snowden will be leaving today, nor does it look like there will be a more specific timetable released today.

RT has this summary of the day’s events:

Kucherena, who arrived at the airport at about 4pm Moscow time, had a large paper bag with him. According to ITAR-TASS, he indeed carries all the paperwork needed for Snowden’s release. He went straight to meet the whistleblower in the transit zone without taking time to speak to the journalists, saying he would do so only after consulting with him.

Kucherena and Snowden conversed in the transit zone, according to an Interfax source.

Snowden has been then handed over his travel documents from Russia’s Immigration Service, the source told Interfax.

“They talked and Mr. Kucherena handed Snowden a package with documents, among which was the certificate that now allows him to leave the transit zone and go through Russian customs.”

However, there is still a report that Snowden may speak to the press.

There is also this interesting tweet from a freelancer for the New York Times that Snowden may stay in Russia.

10:08 EST: According to RT, which has just heard Kucherena speak, it is unlikely that Snowden will leave the airport today because the amount of paperwork being processed is extremely complicated.

However, the headline is perhaps changed, as according to Kucherena, Snodwn does want to stay in Russia, at least temporarily, and it seems that now this may be happening.

10:06 EST: Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, is talking to the media right now. Hopefully we’ll know more momentarily.

9:54 EST: Welcome to the media circus. Cameras, microphones, and media-vehicles are gathering near the front of the airport, waiting for Snowden to leave. However, the expectation of those on the scene is that there will be a press conference before that happens.

9:29 EST: John McCain, a conservative American Senator, airs his displeasure at the news that Snowden may be receiving temporary asylum in Russia:

As I’ve written before, Russia appears to be trying to walk a fine line – they want to allow Snowden to stay free, and continue to leak, but don’t want to damage their already-tenuous relationship with the United States. Granting Snowden temporary asylum, and possibly stopping him from leaking while he’s in Russia, allows Snowden to seek out permanent asylum where he can go back to leaking.

9:16 EST: The big headline of the day is that Snowden may have received his papers allowing him temporary asylum in Russia. This would allow him to leave the Moscow airport that he’s been stuck in while waiting for permanent asylum.

The “Snowden is fleeing the airport” headline is well-trodden, but there is a real possibility that today is the day that it happens. A press conference is being organized where Snowden’s lawyer, and possibly Snowden himself, are expected to speak. The Russian press is also carrying the narrative, another indication that it may be happening.

RT (Russian state media) translates this headline from Interfax:

“The American is currently getting ready to leave. He will be given new clothes. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena will bring the papers he needs to leave the transit zone of the airport,” says Interfax citing a source familiar with the situation. The migration service would not immediately confirm the information.

Reuters is also reporting that Snowden’s lawyer delivered the papers to Snowden that would clear him to leave the airport: