MOSCOW: National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Tuesday submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia, his lawyer said, claiming he faces persecution from the U.S. government and could face torture or death.
WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling site that has been advising Snowden, and Russia’s Federal Migration Service both confirmed the application request. The service is required by law to consider the application within three months, but could do it faster.
Snowden, who revealed details of a U.S. intelligence program to monitor Internet activity, argued in his application that the reason he needs asylum is “he faces persecution by the U.S. government and he fears for his life and safety, fears that he could be subjected to torture and capital punishment,” lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said on Rossiya 24 television.
Kucherena told the Associated Press that he met the former NSA systems analyst in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport to give him legal advice and that Snowden made the request after the meeting.
Snowden has been stuck there 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 He’s had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but because his U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of reaching whichever country he chooses are complicated.
The Kremlin has been anxious to be rid of Snowden, whom the U.S. wants his return to face espionage charges.