MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian lawyer advising Edward Snowden said Friday that the National Security Agency leaker has agreed to fulfill his pledge not to hurt U.S. interests if he is granted asylum in Russia.
Anatoly Kucherena said he met with Snowden on Tuesday to discuss with him the procedures involved in filing the asylum request, which he submitted on that day. Kucherena told The Associated Press that once Russia's Federal Migration Service issues a temporary pass to Snowden after receiving his asylum request, he will be able to move about freely while awaiting the final decision. He said that Russia's Federal Migration Service normally issues such a document within seven days.
The migration agency has three months to consider an asylum request, according to Russian law. Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23. He's had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but, because his U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of reaching whichever country he chooses are complicated.
Once Snowden gets the formal confirmation from the migration agency, he can freely choose his residence but will have to notify the authorities of his location, Kucherena said. He said that the fugitive told him that he had been staying at a capsule hotel in the airport's transit zone, although hordes of reporters that besieged Sheremetyevo to search for him couldn't find him there.
Putin has warned that Snowden could be granted asylum on condition he agrees not to hurt U.S. interests — implying that the American would have to stop leaking material on Washington's spying efforts.
Kucherena said he asked Snowden if he would fulfill that condition, and the fugitive told him he could meet the demand. "I talked to him about this and I asked him: What do you think, will you continue your subversive activity, will you unmask special services of the USA or not in the light of what Mr. Putin said?" Kucherena said. "He told me that he wouldn't do that, and that he could fulfill President Putin's request."
Asked if Snowden would be held responsible for others' future publication of material he has already leaked, Kucherena was cryptic. "I can't exclude anything. Everything that is happening around Mr. Snowden ... all this is unpredictable," he said, adding once again that he expects Snowden to keep his word not to hurt U.S. interests.
Kucherena added that Putin's request apparently reflects his desire to maintain normal relations with the United States.
Alexander Roslyakov contributed to this report.