Edward Snowden, the leaker of documents that revealed National Security Agency surveillance programs, has submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia and could be granted a decision within several weeks, according to news reports.
Snowden’s request was submitted Tuesday in an effort to evade persecution from the U.S. government that could bring with it torture or death, said Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s attorney, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press. Russia’s Federal Migration Service is required by law to consider the application within three months, but a decision in Snowden’s case could be made in as soon as two to three weeks, the Journal said.
The request is being made for “temporary asylum,” not permanent political asylum, because the latter takes longer to consider, the AP said. Under Russian law, political asylum is granted by presidential decree and is not granted often, whereas temporary asylum is akin to refugee status and usually lasts for a renewable period of one year, reports said.
WikiLeaks, the nonprofit news-spilling organization that has been advising Snowden, could not be immediately reached to confirm the reports. Officials at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, also could not be reached.