Edward Snowden May Become Russian Citizen, Gets Pizza, Fails To Leave Moscow Airport

Edward Snowden failed to emerge from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Wednesday. A previous statement from his Russian attorney Anatoly Kucherena said the fugitive NSA leaker might receive papers allowing him to enter Russia. Despite the rumors, it didn’t happen yesterday.

Snowden has been famously trapped in the Moscow airport’s international transit zone ever since he fled Hong Kong on June 23 to evade a US felony warrant on espionage and theft charges. With his US passport canceled, he currently lacks the proper paperwork to pass through Russian customs.

Although he was offered asylum in at least three Latin American nations, Snowden’s lawyer said he couldn’t reach them safely. Instead, Snowden wants asylum in Russia.

NDTV noted that US Secretary of State John Kerry talked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov about the Edward Snowden case on Wednesday. It isn’t clear if Kerry said something that influenced Snowden’s failure to get papers or to leave the airport.

There was a strong police presence at the Moscow airport’s international terminal on Wednesday. At one point, rumors claimed that Snowden was within five minutes of departing. TV camera teams prepared for a car chase in hopes of filming his departure.

In a twist the Russian lawyer described as pro-Kremlin by NDTV brought Snowden gifts and then talked to the media alone.

Kucherena said that there was a misunderstanding. Snowden hadn’t in fact received the paperwork from Russia that would allow him to depart.

Earlier, a young Wikileaks attorney Sarah Harrison had helped Snowden apply for asylum in 27 countries. It isn’t clear where Harrison is or if she is still helping.

But the Russian lawyer Kucherena’s remarks as reported by Voice of Russia suggest that Edward Snowden is learning Russia, plans to get a job, and eventually wants to become a naturalized citizen.

Highlights About Edward Snowden’s Plans From Voice Of Russia

    • Kucherena called reports that Edward Snowden already had his asylum documents misinformation.
    • Edward Snowden will be eligible to become a Russian citizen after he gets the certificate of political asylum, but he must first live in Russia five years.
    • Snowden is already learning Russian and has used a few basic words to greet his lawyer.
    • Snowden is confused and doesn’t fully understand his rights. According to Kucherena: “He didn’t have the proper understanding of the situation he is in. He asked if he has any restrictions if he is granted asylum in Russia. I told him he wouldn’t have any restrictions to travel around Russia.”
    • Kucherena brought gifts for Snowden including a pizza, fresh clothes, books on Russian history, and a copy of Russia’s most famous novel Crime and Punishment: “I told him that he has to know who Raskolnikov is.”

Since Snowden looked a little thin during his last public appearance with human rights activists at the airport on July 12, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Kucherena said Edward Snowden ate the pizza “with great pleasure.”