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Leaker Snowden hopes to be able to leave airport by Wednesday: lawyer

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from video during an intervie
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from video during an intervie

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden hopes to be granted papers by Wednesday allowing him to end his month-long stay in the transit area of a Moscow airport and move to the city center, his Russian lawyer said on Monday.

Anatoly Kucherena, who helped the American file his bid for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16, said Snowden believed it would be unsafe to try to travel to Latin America soon because of U.S. efforts to return him to the United States to face espionage charges.

"He should get this certificate (allowing him to leave the airport) shortly," he said.

Snowden's bid for temporary asylum in Russia may take up to three months to process, but he can pass through customs based on the initial response to his request, Kucherena added.

Snowden, whose presence at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since June 23 has strained U.S.-Russian relations, has not ruled out seeking Russian citizenship, Kucherena said. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all said they would grant him political asylum, but none is reachable by direct commercial flight from Moscow.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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