title: 'Snowden transit Washington pressure' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:

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    Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is still awaiting permission to leave the Moscow airport where he has been stuck for over a month, after the United States stepped up pressure on Russia to send him back home. VoR's Scott Craig reports. Russian media indicated on Wednesday that the authorities were preparing to let Snowden leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport but then in mysterious circumstances he failed to emerge. Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia and is now awaiting a document that would allow him to formally cross the border and move freely in Russia while his application is being considered a prospect the United States has said would be "deeply disappointing". Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry about Snowden's case Wednesday but it was not clear if their discussion had an impact on the fugitive's fate. Washington wants to put the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor on trial for revealing details of vast US surveillance programmes, but Moscow has rejected demands to hand him over. The US ambassador to Russia on Thursday reiterated that Washington wants Moscow to hand over Snowden, despite the absence of an extradition agreement between the two countries. "The US is not asking for 'extradition', but simply the return of Mr Snowden. We have sent many people back to Russia," ambassador Michael McFaul wrote on Twitter. The Russian foreign ministry made no mention of Kerry and Lavrov discussing Snowden's fate, merely saying on its website that the two men spoke on bilateral relations and the situation in Syria. But US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told journalists that Kerry called Lavrov after learning that Snowden was to receive a temporary document allowing him to leave the transit zone. "Any move that would allow him to depart the airport would be deeply disappointing,"she said. "Our belief is the only place he should be moving is back to the United States." Snowden has been in the airport since June 23, after arriving there from Hong Kong. Whistle blower Snowden granted temporary access to Russia Snowden's month in Moscow (VoR text by Jim Ensom, AFP)

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