MOSCOW (AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow's airport a month ago, aims to stay in Russia for the near future and learn the country's culture and language, his lawyer said Wednesday.
To get him started, Anatoly Kucherena said he gave Snowden a copy of "Crime and Punishment," Dostoyevsky's lengthy novel about the torment and redemption of a man who thought himself outside the law.
"I am not talking about the similarity of inner contradictions," Kucherena said after meeting Snowden in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo international airport, where Snowden has apparently been marooned since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.
The day's developments left the White House — and nearly everyone else — "seeking clarity" about the status of the man who revealed details of an NSA program to monitor Internet and telephone communications.
When Snowden first arrived at Sheremetyevo, he was believed to be planning just to transfer to a flight to Cuba and then to Venezuela to seek asylum. But the United States, which wants him returned for prosecution, canceled his passport, stranding him. He hasn't been seen in public since, although he met with human rights activists and lawyers July 12.
Snowden then applied for temporary asylum in Russia, saying he eventually wanted to visit countries that had offered him asylum: Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
It's unclear how long Russia will take to decide on the asylum request. Kucherena's meeting Wednesday with Snowden was preceded by a flurry of reports that said the lawyer would give him documentation that would allow him to leave the airport while the asylum process is underway.
But Kucherena said he had no such paperwork to pass along. The Federal Migration Service, which would issue such a document, said it had no information.
Asked about Snowden's long-term intentions, Kucherena told state television that "Russia is his final destination for now. He doesn't look further into the future than that."
The case has provoked considerable tension between Moscow and Washington, at a particularly sensitive time — less than two months before President Barack Obama had planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and again at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. was "seeking clarity" as the reports swirled of Snowden's possible imminent departure from the airport. The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, said "providing any refuge to Edward Snowden will be harmful to U.S.-Russia relations."
The lawyer said that Snowden is studying "Russian culture" and has already learned a little Russian, but the copy of Dostoyevsky's thick and dense novel — about the mental anguish of a poor ex-student who kills a pawnbroker for her cash — was in English. He said he also brought Snowden other books, including an unspecified work by Anton Chekhov.
Kucherena told journalists that he had brought fresh clothes for Snowden, whom he said had been wearing the same clothes he had when he arrived from Hong Kong.
If Snowden gets the documentation to leave the airport, that would only allow him to travel outside Russia, for which he'd need other identification papers, Kucherena said.
How long that might take is unclear.
"Edward is understanding about this and he hasn't been refused anything — the process is simply being drawn out somewhat," Kucherena said.
U.S.-Russian relations are already strained by Washington's criticism of Russia's pressure on opposition groups, its suspicion of U.S. missile-defense plans in Europe, and its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Nataliya Vasilyeva and Laura Mills in Moscow contributed to this report.
Email Alert Sign Up
Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.
Daisy Cortes was in court earlier this week through her attorney asked for her bond to be reduced. According to published reports her attorney reported to the court that Ms. Cortes was unaware of her fathersMore >>
Daughter of suspected gunman has day in courtMore >>
The most haunted island on earth is a small island right off the coast of Venice, Italy called ‘The Island Of Poveglia. It's beautiful and deserted but it was also a body dumping ground a few hundred yearsMore >>
Spacious Island for sale; includes hotel. May need exorcism. More >>
Jesus Hernandez-Carlon stood before a judge to be formally charged; Carlon was arrested Monday night after a witness identified him as the man who robbed him at gun point outside a Yuma restaurant. AccordingMore >>
Man suspected of robbing someone at gun-point outside a Yuma restaurant was in court. More >>
YUMA, AZ- Yuma Police continue to look for an armed robber wearing a black ski mask who used a shot gun to rob his victim. According to police an SUV with several passengers pulled up to a man whoMore >>
Yuma Police continue to look for an armed robber wearing a black ski mask who used a shot gun to rob his victim.More >>
One Stop Employment Services in Imperial County is stepping up their efforts to help the more than 1300 employees set to be laid off once National Beef in Brawley closes in late May. They're reaching outMore >>
Employment agency stepping in to help those affect by meat company closure. More >>
YUMA, AZ- A San Luis teen is sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for attempting to transport drugs for sale. Mark Anthony Roque was arrested in June of 2011 after a large amount of drugs were found inMore >>
A San Luis teen is sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for attempting to transport drugs for sale.More >>
BRAWLEY, Calif. (13 On Your Side) – A gang member charged with murder in connection to the stabbing death of a Brawley High School football star appeared in court today. During today's hearing, the defenseMore >>
– A gang member charged with murder in connection to the stabbing death of a Brawley High School football star appeared in court today.More >>