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3 Aug, 2013 01:50

‘Russia is not a colony, US has no legal basis to claim Snowden’ – lawyer

‘Russia is not a colony, US has no legal basis to claim Snowden’ – lawyer

The US government stance on Edward Snowden causes more harm than good to the USA, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, calling the US officials’ claims of filing “lawfully” grounded requests for his extradition “cynical”.

According to Kucherena, Russia is “fulfilling its humanitarian mission,” and threats of sanctions against Russia if the country does not extradite the whistleblower are groundless.

There was absolutely no legal basis provided to back US demands to extradite Snowden, Kucherena reiterated in response to White House press secretary Jay Carney’s claims of “very clear and lawful requests in public and private.”

“I believe this is a very cynical statement,”
Kucherena said. “Since I became [Snowden’s] legal representative, we’ve been asking – both through the [US] embassy and I, personally, through the media – ‘Please, make a clear reference to a provision of law that would allow us to turn him over to you.' Thus far we did not receive any response.”

The only official letter from US Attorney General Eric Holder detailing America’s position on Edward Snowden and clarifying some point of US law did not contain any request to extradite him, Kucherena reminded.

“If there was any legal basis, they would immediately send such a request,” Kucherena stated. “We have to demonstrate prudence in [this situation]. The dialogue, no matter how hard it is, should be meaningful.”

“[Russia] is not a colony of the US, and we cannot be told ‘Give him to us!’” Kucherena added.

Since the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been issued a temporary residence permit and finally left Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, everyone has been wondering where he is now. Snowden’s lawyer said that the whistleblower was in a “safe place” keeping a low profile for now due to “security reasons,” but would soon be ready to “meet with media representatives to answer all possible questions in person.”

Fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's new refugee documents granted by Russia is seen during a news conference in Moscow August 1, 2013 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

“The level of danger is high for him. After all he’s being sought by a super power. And we understand what means and methods they could use to find him,” Kucherena said, refusing to reveal Snowden’s current location. “We have agreed that he is ready [to meet with the press], but when this will happen, it’s hard to determine.”

The lawyer also stated that he was to organize Snowdens’ reunion with his father, Lon Snowden who was waiting for his visa documents to be “finalized,” a process that could take about three weeks.

Edward Snowden has been issued a 12-month residence permit and is legally allowed to work in Russia and travel across the country. However, if he crosses the country’s borders his temporary asylum permit will be revoked, according to the lawyer.

“Edward can buy a train or airplane ticket, but he cannot cross the border because he does not have an international passport,” said the lawyer reiterating that the former CIA employee has “no intention to travel abroad as of now.”

The former US citizen, stripped of his passport, had been living in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23. He was granted temporary asylum on Thursday fully aware that  Moscow would not tolerate Snowden continuing US leaks. President Vladimir Putin has previously warned “that any activity of his that could damage US-Russian relations is unacceptable for [Russia].”

When asked about the latest XKeyscore revelations published by the Guardian on Wednesday, Kucherena stated that the data exposing the massive information-collecting program was passed on to journalist Glenn Greenwald while Snowden was still in Hong Kong.

While the whistleblower’s location still raises many questions, Kucherena said that Snowden has acquired “new friends, including Americans, who will ensure his security for the time being.”