Silver Lining

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Snowden can leave Moscow airport: Report

by Carlos Latuff

Press TV

American whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given a document that would allow him to leave Moscow’s main international airport after one month.

Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena received the document on Wednesday, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

The former National Security Agency contractor, who is charged with espionage in the United States, could leave the Sheremetyevo airport in the next hours.

Snowden leaked to the news media details of two top-secret US government spying programs – one that collects massive amounts of information on phone calls made by Americans and the other, codenamed PRISM, sweeps up data on US citizens and other nationals via the Internet. He also revealed that the US spies on its European and Latin American allies.

Snowden has been staying in the transit zone of the airport since June 23 and applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week.

According to the reports, the leaker’s asylum request is being considered by Russian officials, but it would take up to three months to process.

Temporary asylum would allow Snowden to remain in Russia for one year and would require annual renewal. Snowden may appeal the decision in court if his request is rejected by the Russian Immigration Service.

Granting asylum to the American leaker would further increase tensions between the United States and Russia after their recent verbal arguments over Snowden’s month-long stay at Sheremetyevo airport.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to convince him to extradite Snowden, but Putin has refused the request, saying Washington trapped Snowden in Moscow.

The Obama administration has repeatedly warned Russia about consequences of Moscow’s refusal.

“The Russian government has an opportunity here to work with us,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “This should not be something that causes long-term problems for US-Russian relations.”

However, Sergei Gorlenko, the acting chief of the prosecutor general’s extradition office, pushed back against US calls to hand over Snowden, saying Washington routinely ignores Moscow’s extradition requests.

“The United States is repeatedly refusing Russia to extradite individuals, to hold them criminally liable, including those accused of committing serious or heinous crimes,” he said. “We have been denied the extradition of murderers, bandits and bribe-takers.”

Spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry Andrey Pilipchuk also said, “Law agencies asked the US on many occasions to extradite wanted criminals through Interpol channels, but those requests were neither met nor even responded to.”

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