July 17, 2013 12:19 pm

Snowden could leave Moscow airport in next few days

A man looks in Moscow on July 12, 2013, at a computer screen displaying a photo US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (C) during his today's meeting with leading Russian rights activists and lawyers at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he has been stuck in transit for the last three weeks.©AFP

Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower, could leave the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport within the next few days, a pro-Kremlin lawyer said on Wednesday.

“The issue of giving him temporary asylum won’t take more than one week,” Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer who has been working with Mr Snowden since Friday, told Russian news agency Interfax.

“I think he will be able to leave the transit zone within the next few days.”

Mr Snowden on Tuesday submitted an official request for temporary asylum in Russia, according to Mr Kucherena who first met Mr Snowden last week as part of a motley delegation of pro-Kremlin lawyers and rights activists who attended a brief conference with Mr Snowden inside the airport.

On a trip to Chita in Eastern Siberia on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Mr Snowden would have to stop any anti-American activity if he wished to receive asylum in Russia.

“We warned Mr Snowden that any action by him that could cause damage to Russian-American relations is unacceptable for us,” Mr Putin said on Wednesday. He added that the Kremlin considered good relations with Washington to be “a national objective”.

“Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services,” the president said.

Washington continues to demand that Moscow extradite Mr Snowden.

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