Published August 02, 2013
A day after Russia granted him asylum, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is looking for a place to live and considering job offers, according to his attorney.
Russia granted temporary asylum to Snowden Thursday, after he spent nearly six weeks at a Moscow airport. Russia is allowing Snowden to stay until July 31, 2014, as he evades espionage charges in the U.S.
Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters Friday he gave the whistle-blower a certificate on refugee status in the Russian Federation and put him in a taxi, according to a report in the Moscow Times.
“He can live wherever he wants in Russia. It's his personal choice,” Kucherena said.
Kucherena later told a Russian TV network that he already has a few friends in the country, including Americans.
Snowden’s refugee status gives him the right to travel and work around Russia, something he previously said he intends to do, according to Kucherena. Snowden had previously suggested he would seek work in Russia, and planned to stay in the country long enough to familiarize himself with local culture, customs and language.
Pavel Durov, the majority shareholder of popular social network Vkontakte, offered Snowden a job at his company in St. Petersburg as an IT specialist, the Moscow Times reported.
But Kucherena said instead of working for in the tech industry, Snowden will look for a job as a human rights activist.
Snowden's temporary asylum allows him to work in Russia, with some restrictions, immigration lawyer Bakhrom Ismailov told the Associated Press.
"Snowden has the same rights for employment as a Russian citizen except that he is not allowed to work as a public servant or take a job in law enforcement agencies,” said Ismailov, a managing partner at Yurinvestholding.
Article 14 of the law on temporary asylum states that a person with this status is entitled "to receive assistance" in traveling out of Russia. Ismailov said that this assistance could mean issuing a travel document, but that doesn’t normally happen for people with temporary asylum.
Snowden has abandoned plans to travel to Latin America and won’t stay at any of the Latin American embassies in Moscow, Kucherena said, adding that Snowden's whereabouts will not be made public to protect his safety.
A senior Kremlin official said he hoped granting Snowden temporary asylum would not have a negative effect on U.S.-Russian relations, calling the Snowden situation "relatively insignificant."
"Our president has … expressed hope many times that this will not affect the character of our relations," Yuri Ushakov, President Vladimir Putin's foreign affairs aide, the Moscow Times reported.
President Obama is scheduled to visit Moscow in September, and there has been no indication that he will cancel the trip, Ushakov said.
Snowden may consider speaking to the press in the coming days. Russian state TV channels have already invited him to participate in Friday evening talk shows.
"As soon as he decides what he will do, I hope he will announce it himself," the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Kucherena saying.
Snowden’s asylum agreement can be subsequently extended for another year upon request, or upgraded to 5-year permanent asylum. The Russians can also eventually grant him citizenship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.