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Snowden may stay in temporary shelter in Russia

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-29 21:34

MOSCOW - Fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden could be placed in a temporary refugee shelter outside Moscow if his asylum request was approved, the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) said Monday.

"The thing is that there are no centers accommodating refugees in Moscow," FMS Moscow department chief Olga Kirillova told a press conference.

Sheremetyevo airport, where Snowden has been stranded for over a month, is administratively located in the Moscow region.

"He has filed his request with the Moscow regional unit of the Federal Migration Service," the Interfax news agency quoted Kirillova as saying."I cannot say where he may be assigned."

Snowden faces espionage charges in the US after disclosing its classified intelligence surveillance project code-named PRISM. He filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia earlier this month.

On Thursday, US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul said Washington had asked Russia not to "extradite" Snowden but to "hand him over" to US authorities. But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday Russia would not hand Snowden over to his home country.

Vladimir Volokh, head of the FMS' public council, said Friday Snowden could be stuck in Sheremetyevo airport for another half a year while his legal status was clarified.

"Russian law does not stipulate the duration of time for which a foreign citizen may stay in the airport's transit zone or liability for staying in a transit zone without documents," the Justice Ministry said in a statement Saturday.

According to the FMS, 276 people have filed temporary asylum application in the first six months of this year, and 123 requests were approved.

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