Edward Snowden has requested temporary safe haven in Russia. The NSA-whistleblower has been stuck in a Moscow airport since late last month after the United States revoked his passport.
Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS) received Snowden's application for asylum on Tuesday, according to Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena. The move came several weeks after President Vladimir Putin said he would grant the former NSA subcontractor safe haven on the condition that he stop leaking classified information.
There was no immediate comment available from Snowden or Russian officials on Tuesday.
Snowden landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in late June after fleeing his first hideout from US officials, Hong Kong. US allies have been reluctant to risk harming ties with Washington by welcoming him into their own territories given that he is wanted on espionage charges.
Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have also offered him safe haven, but travelling there from Moscow without passing through US airspace or that of Washington's allies would be difficult.
The announcement came a day after Putin called Snowden an unwanted Christmas gift, referring to the diplomatic mess he had caused between Washington and numerous allies. He also accused Washington of blocking Snowden from leaving Russian territory.
"He arrived on our territory uninvited, he did not fly to us, he was flying in transit to other countries," Putin said in televised remarks. "But as soon as he was in the air, it became known, and our American partners essentially blocked off his further flight."
"They themselves scared off all the other countries, no one wants to take him, and therefore they essentially trapped him on our territory," Putin said.
kms/pfd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)