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NSA leaker Edward Snowden stuck in a holding pattern at Moscow airport

  • NSA Surveillance_Cala.jpg

    FILE - This Sunday, June 9, 2013 file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong. Russian state news agency said Wednesday, July 24, 2013 that US leaker Edward Snowden has been granted a document that allows him to leave the transit zone of a Moscow airport and enter Russia. Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Rusia last week after his attempts to leave the airport were thwarted. The United States wants him sent home to face prosecution for espionage. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)

  • NSA Surveillance_Cala(1).jpg

    FILE - In this image provided by Human Rights Watch, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, center, attends a news conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left, Friday, July 12, 2013. Russian state news agency said Wednesday, July 24, 2013 that US leaker Edward Snowden has been granted a document that allows him to leave the transit zone of a Moscow airport and enter Russia. Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Rusia last week after his attempts to leave the airport were thwarted. The United States wants him sent home to face prosecution for espionage. (AP Photo/Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina)

He's a man without a country -- and after a brief flurry of speculation Wednesday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden might finally be able to exit Moscow airport, he's right back where he started, holed up in the facility's transit zone.

A Russian lawyer was reported planning to meet with Snowden at the airport Wednesday, prompting speculation he would bring documents allowing the former NSA contract employee to formally enter Russia.

Snowden had applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week after his attempts to leave Sheremetyevo airport and fly out of the country were thwarted.

But now it appears that even with new legal papers, he still must wait at the airport while Russian authorities consider his asylum request.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Migration Service told the AP they had no information about the status of Snowden's application for asylum.

Snowden is believed to have been staying at the airport transit zone since June 23, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.

U.S. prosecutors charged Snowden last month with espionage and theft of government property.

On Monday, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow demanded Russia turn over Snowden.

“Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the felony charges against him,” Ambassador Michael McFaul said via Twitter.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed security official on Wednesday as saying that Snowden has been issued documents, allowing him to formally enter Russia.

Anna Zakharenkova, a spokeswoman for the airport, told The Associated Press that Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer advising Snowden, would meet with Snowden.

President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden can be granted asylum in Russia only if he stops leaking secrets.

Granting Snowden asylum would add new tensions to U.S.-Russian relations already strained by criticism of Russia's pressure on opposition groups, Moscow's suspicion of U.S. missile-defense plans and Russia's resistance to sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.