Anatoly Kucherena, NSA leaker Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer, speaks to the press after meeting him today at Sheremetyevo Airport. (Source: Reuters)
Today, in the ongoing drama of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, there was word that the modern-day Terminal Man would finally end his time in the Sheremetyevo International Airport transit zone this morning. Sources were reporting that the leaker received documents from Russian authorities that would allow him to leave the airport. These documents are actually quite critical for Snowden in order for him to leave the country, given that many countries have refused to even let him apply for asylum unless he reaches an embassy or consulate, of which most are in Moscow and not in the airport. Given the odds of him being able to sneak out are pretty low, given the Russian government's relative apathy for him, Snowden has to get legitimate documentation to leave. With documents in hand, that was supposed to be the case.
Now, word is coming in that Edward Snowden remains at the airport, the situation unchanged. According to sources in the Russian government, Snowden's application for asylum remains under review. In fact, a document was presented to Snowden today, but it was, in fact, a document simply saying that the asylum request is being reviewed. It is the equivalent of applying for a job, and receiving an email back saying your application is being reviewed. Essentially, the hooplah over Snowden today was all for something that could have been done over the phone. Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, reported that it would likely take three months for the asylum request to be reviewed.
Edward Snowden's plan at this point, depending on whether asylum is granted, is to live and work in Russia. This comes after initially planning on using Russia as a transit point to seek more permanent asylum. The problem with this idea is that the amount of additional information that Snowden has that he has yet to leak will be of great use to Russian intelligence. There is little doubt that if and when he is able to leave the terminal at Sheremetyevo International Airport, the first people that will want to meet him are interrogators, like sharks on blood.