Reports of Snowden leaving Moscow airport denied
US Congress in first test of support of spying measures since whistleblower’s leaks
Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer assisting former US whistleblower Edward Snowden, speaks to the media at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow yesterday. Snowden has no immediate plans to leave Russia, said Kucherena, who is assisting him in his request for temporary asylum. Photograph: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov
Edward Snowden’s month-long stay at Moscow airport appeared no closer to ending yesterday after reports that the US whistleblower had been permitted to stay temporarily elsewhere in Russia were denied.
Mr Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, following a meeting with the former US intelligence contractor, that, contrary to local reports, his client had not received a certificate allowing him to stay inside Russia while the authorities considered his request for temporary asylum.
Mr Kucherena said he still hoped Mr Snowden (30), who is wanted by the US on espionage charges for leaking details of sweeping US surveillance of phone and internet use, would be granted asylum.
“I must say he is of course anxious about it and I hope that this situation will be resolved soon in the nearest future,” he said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US was seeking “clarity” about Mr Snowden’s status after an airport source told Russian media he had been granted a pass to leave the airport’s transit area. Mr Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia almost 10 days ago after flying to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23rd. He has been unable to leave the airport because the US has revoked his passport, preventing him from taking up offers of sanctuary from Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has urged Congress to defeat a legislative proposal to reduce the amount of American phone records it collects under surveillance.
The White House asked House of Representative members to vote against a measure proposed by Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, to block the National Security Agency, the US eavesdropping agency, from accessing millions of telephone records when no crime is suspected. “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process,” the White House said on Tuesday evening.
Mr Amash’s proposal would block the NSA from using the US Patriot Act to collect phone records of individuals who are not being investigated.