MOSCOW, July 16 (RAPSI) - Former NSA employee Edward Snowden, who has been living in the transit zone of Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, will be issued a special document which will allow him to stay in Russia while his asylum request is considered, a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti.
He said that if Snowden files a request for refugee status with the Federal Migration Service, the request will be considered, even though Snowden's passport was recently cancelled by the US and he is currently not in possession of any valid documents.
The source said the prehearing of Snowden's request would take up to five days and the examination proper up to three months. The Federal Migration Service can extend the period of consideration by another three months in special cases.
"If a decision is made to examine a request, the applicant is issued a document to this effect. This document will also serve as his or her ID and will give the applicant the right to stay in Russia for the duration of the procedure," the source said.
He added that if his asylum request is rejected, Snowden will be able to appeal the decision. "The appeal can be heard by three courts and also as a supervisory appeal," he said. "The applicant cannot be deported while his appeal is being heard."
Snowden said at a meeting with human rights organizations late last week that he wanted to stay in Russia and that he would be asking for asylum. However, as of July 15, the Federal Migration Service said it had not yet received any official request for asylum from Snowden.
Edward Snowden, 30, admitted to leaking a secret court order to the media in early June, according to which US telecom company Verizon was required to provide data from millions of customers to the US authorities for three months. He also claims an Internet scouring program code-named PRISM allowed the NSA and the FBI to tap into nine US Internet companies and to gather all kinds of information from users, including videos, emails, searches and images.
On June 14, the US authorities charged Snowden under three articles, each of them stipulating punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Two of the charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.