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‘Snowden’ help letter to Russian police union a fabrication – lawyer

by Anna Arutunyan at 22/07/2013 17:46

A mix-up – or an outright fabrication – appears to have occurred involving NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to Anatoly Kucherena, a prominent Russian lawyer helping the fugitive obtain asylum in Russia.

A person identifying himself as Snowden penned a letter earlier this month to the Union of Law Enforcement Organs of Russia, according to the organization.

“I express my desire to join the union association. I need protection,” read the July 3 email, which was signed by Edward Joseph Snowden and contained grammatical errors in Russian, according to Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Law enforcement veterans in the association said they decided to accept Snowden, a former CIA employee, into their ranks.

“Snowden is one of us, from our officers’ brotherhood. Moreover, he is not a criminal,” one of the union’s heads, Alexei Lobarev was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Lobarev believed the letter, adding that his association sent a response to Snowden through Kucherena, who helped draft the whistleblower’s request for temporary asylum last week.

When reached by The Moscow News, the union confirmed receiving such a letter from someone identified as Snowden, but Lobarev himself could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Snowden did not address any letter to any association,” Kucherena told The Moscow News. “Where it came from, whose fabrication it was, it’s difficult for me to say.”

According to Kucherena, he did indeed receive a letter from a law enforcement association agreeing to help Snowden, but Snowden himself denied ever asking for such help.

“It’s surprising that the leaders of this [association] believed it,” Kucherena said.

Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency wanted by the United States for leaking reports about a top-secret surveillance program, remains in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he has been holed up since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.

Earlier this month, he asked about a dozen Russian lawyers and human rights activists, including Kucherena, to help him obtain temporary Russian asylum and filed the formal request last week. The FMS said it received the request on July 16.

As of Monday, the FMS has not issued a response to Snowden, RIA Novosti reported. According to Kucherena, the service issues the applicant an initial response within seven working days. After that, Snowden will be able to leave the transit zone and remain in Russia until his request for temporary asylum is either approved or rejected, which takes up to two months.

“We’re waiting for [the initial response] any day,” Kucherena said. He could not say whether Snowden would be willing to talk to the press once he leaves the airport. “It’s connected to security issues.”



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