For a while, it looked like Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower, might have finally been able to leave the Moscow airport where he's spent the past month.
Earlier today (July 24), a Russian news report said that Snowden had received a document that would allow him to leave Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, a neutral transit zone outside the United States' reach.
Snowden had applied for asylum from the Russian government when he touched down in Sheremetyevo from Hong Kong on June 23, but the Russian government, under pressure from the United States to assist in Snowden's capture, had resisted granting asylum.
But according to the news report, this unspecified document was supposed to permit Snowden to leave the transit zone safely.
(See also: Can You Hide Anything from the NSA?)
Later that day, however, a lawyer assisting Snowden dismissed the existence of this vaguely defined document as a rumor. Russia has still not approved or denied Snowden's asylum request, and in the meantime, he would remain in the airport, which is a neutral transit zone.
"He is not planning to leave for now. He asked for temporary asylum, which in the case of a positive decision, is granted for a term of one year. Currently, his final country of destination is Russia," Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden, told Rossiya 24 news channel.
Kucherena also said that Snowden intends to stay in Russia and "study Russian culture."
Previously, Snowden had said that his final destination is either Bolivia, Nicaragua or Venezuela, as all three Central and South American countries have offered him asylum.
The United States currently has a warrant out for Snowden's arrest that charges him with espionage and theft of government property.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will grant Snowden asylum if he stops leaking U.S. secrets. The last leak to allegedly come from Snowden was July 11, when Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that Microsoft works closely with the NSA to give the agency access to its users' information, according to what the newspaper reported to be top-secret documents.
However, this story was published without the accompanying documents that the Guardian said were provided by Snowden. Previously, the Guardian published seven NSA documents that Snowden gave them.
This story is still unresolved. But for now, it doesn't look like Snowden will be leaving that airport any time soon.
This article originally appeared on LiveScience.com. More from LiveScience.com:
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