Four days after Edward Snowden announced he would apply for temporary asylum in Russia, Moscow finally has his application.
Anatoly Kucherena, who serves on an advisory body to the Kremlin, told the Associated Press Tuesday that he had met Snowden in the Moscow airport where he's been holed up since June 23, and received his application directly.
It's not immediately clear what took so long, as Snowden announced he'd pursue this path on Friday. He's been a man without a country since June 23, when he fled his job working for the NSA with a host of files detailing the agency's Internet and telephone spying practices. In response, the U.S. revoked his passport and charged him with espionage, leaving him stranded in the international space of the Sheremetyevo airport.
This application is for temporary asylum, and so it appears to be different from the one he filed on July 1, part of a batch of requests to almost two dozen countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wouldn't extradite Snowden to the U.S., but for the country to consider asylum, Snowden would have to "stop his work aimed at harming our American partners."
It's not clear that would be a problem for Snowden, though he'd probably disagree with characterizing his leaks as harming the U.S. According to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has published most of the leaks the public has seen so far, Snowden gave him all his leaks at the same time; "he's not doling out documents to us in drips & drabs," and might not have any more to give.
If Russia grants him temporary asylum, Snowden would likely head to Latin America, as only Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia accepted his earlier requests. Snowden announced Friday that he was accepting all three countries' offers, but that he couldn't get there yet due to interference from other nations.
UPDATE: No one imagined getting asylum after leaking documents belonging to the most powerful intelligence agency in the world would be a clean process.
Nevertheless, it just got messier for Edward Snowden. Russia has confirmed that it received Snowden's request for temporary asylum, but the Federal Migration Service has only promised to give him an answer within three months.
Moreover, in the raggediest update to Snowden's saga yet, RT has produced an image it claims is Snowden's hand-scrawled request for asylum, provided by Anatoly Kucherena. It seems unbelievable, though it's not hard to imagine that Snowden, who's been stuck in an airport for weeks, doesn't have access to printer.
It's marked "To: Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation" and "From: Edward Joseph Snowden, United States Citizen." It's quite short, written with pen on a blank sheet of paper, though it's possible there's more text at the bottom that the photo cut off.
I hereby request your considering the possibility of granting to me temporary asylum in the Russian Federation.
15 July 2013"
RT added that it's possible Snowden will be transferred to a refugee center while he waits.
Photo by ubiquit23/Flickr