Update, 11 a.m.: National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has not received the documents needed to leave a Moscow airport, his lawyer told reporters.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian media reported that Snowden had obtained a document allowing him to exit the airport where he has been holed up for a month.
Snowden's lawyer said the paperwork could come at "any time."
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has obtained a document that lets him leave the Moscow airport where he has been holed up for the past month, allowing the former government contractor to travel freely throughout Russia, a news agency reported Wednesday.
Quoting an unnamed security official, Russia’s RIA Novosti said Snowden had obtained the paperwork needed to end his lengthy stay inside the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport.
Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, was seen by reporters at the Moscow airport Wednesday, but he refused to elaborate on his meeting with the ex-CIA official.
Snowden faces a trio of espionage charges in the United States, and Obama administration officials have demanded that Russia extradite him back to the U.S.
The White House is weighing whether to call off a planned meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for September, partly because of the Snowden affair. Granting Snowden refuge would further strain an already frosty relationship between the U.S. and Russian governments.
Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week, saying “he faces persecution by the U.S. government” and “could be subjected to torture and capital punishment.”
Though he is seeking immediate refuge in Russia, Snowden would like to eventually land in Latin America. He had been offered asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
Since his passport has been revoked, Snowden’s passageway to Latin America is far from guaranteed, which could force him to stay in Russia indefinitely.
Snowden disclosed extensive details about U.S. phone and Internet surveillance programs, revelations that have put the Obama administration on the defensive about its commitment to civil liberties.
Putin previously said he would grant Snowden asylum only if the former government contractor agreed to stop leaking American secrets — a demand Snowden said he would honor if allowed to stay in Russia.