Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo by Reuters
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Reuters
Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden (C) and Sarah Harrison (L) of WikiLeaks speak to human rights representatives in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport July 12, 2013. Photo by Reuters

The Russian authorities are not in contact with fugitive U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden − who said he was applying for temporary asylum − Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

Snowden made his first public appearance in three weeks on Friday alongside Russian rights activists and lawyers in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been in limbo since fleeing from Hong Kong.

The details of that meeting were widely reported in the media and Lavrov merely said: “I got acquainted with them as everyone else.”

Under Russian law, the first step in the political asylum process is an application to the Federal Migration Service, he said in Kyrgyzstan, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Earlier on Saturday, the authorities said Snowden has not yet submitted an official request for asylum.

“If an application is received, it will be processed according to the legal procedure,” the head of the Federal Migration Service, Konstantin Romodanovsky, told Russian media.

The 30-year-old former systems analyst who worked as an intelligence contractor said he had applied for refuge in Russia only until he could travel safely to Latin America. Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have signaled willingness to offer him haven if he reaches their borders.