Former CIA contractor and self-declared leaker Edward Snowden hopes to end his month-long stay in a Moscow airport and move to the city's downtown by Wednesday, his Russian lawyer told Reuters on Monday.
Attorney Anatoly Kucherena told the news agency that Snowden felt it was too dangerous to leave Russia for Latin America because of U.S. efforts to bring him home to face charges for allegedly leaking classified details about American intelligence gathering efforts.
"He should get this certificate (allowing him to leave the airport) shortly," Kucherena, who helped Snowden apply for temporary asylum in Russia, told Reuters.
Kucherena said Snowden’s bid to obtain temporary asylum in the country may take as long as three months to process. But, based on the initial response to the request, he can pass through customs and exit the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he has been staying for nearly one month.
Snowden has also not ruled out Russian citizenship, according to his lawyer.
Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have said they would grant Snowden asylum, but none are reachable by direct flight from Moscow, Reuters reports.
Snowden’s prolonged stay in Russia has heightened tensions between the country and the U.S.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham even suggested the U.S. consider boycotting the upcoming winter games in Sochi unless Russian officials aid in American demands to return Snowden.
The suggestion has garnered little support from fellow lawmakers.