NSA leaker Edward Snowden plans to settle in Russia and is ready to begin a court battle if the country’s migration service denies his asylum plea, Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer who assists the whistleblower, told RT.
“It’s hard for me to say what his actions would be in terms of a positive decision [on the asylum plea],” Kucherena said. “We must understand that security is the number one issue in his case. I think the process of adaptation will take some time. It’s an understandable process as he doesn’t know the Russian language, our customs, and our laws.”
“He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in,” he added.
Kucherena expressed hope that the whistleblower’s plea will be granted, because the reasons which prompted Snowden ask for political asylum in Russia “deserve attention.”
“He fears for his health and his life. He’s afraid that if he’ll be handed to the US, torture can be used against him down to death penalty,” he said.
In case of a negative ruling on the plea, Kucherena said that Snowden has “an opportunity to go to court and appeal against the decision of the Federal Migration Service.”
“He intends to do so,” the attorney stressed. “During our meeting, our dialogues, and our consultations, he made detailed inquiries on those procedures. And I informed him of what possibilities he has according to Russian law.”
Snowden still remains holed up in the international transit zone of the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. His asylum plea, which was filed on July 16, has not been yet formalized by migration officials.
“According to the existing practice, it may take five, seven, or eight days. I’m calling them on a daily basis. They tell me that they’re about to finish the formalization,” Kucherena said.
“There are no travel restrictions. Therefore, receiving the paper will give him an opportunity to leave the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport and choose a place of residence – rent a hotel or a flat. [He can] live in any place within the Russian federation,” Kucherena explained.
According to the lawyer, consideration of the plea will then take up to three months. If his request is approved, Snowden will receive a certificate which will “guarantee him the same rights and freedoms possessed by the citizens of the Russian Federation.”
“The temporary asylum is given on a one-year term. After it expires, the term can be prolonged for another year and this can be repeated an indefinite number of times afterwards,” he said.
Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 after revealing secret NSA government surveillance programs to the public.
The 30-year-old whistleblower is wanted in the US on charges of espionage and theft of government property.
Several Latin American states have offered him asylum, but the whistleblower believes it is unsafe for him to leave Russia following the July 2 incident in which the Bolivian president’s plane was grounded on suspicion that Snowden was aboard the craft. – RT