MOSCOW — After a month holed up in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor sought by the United States on espionage charges, received a change of clothes and copy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, during a meeting with his lawyer Wednesday, but still no clearance to enter Russia.
Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia, and Russian news agencies had reported earlier Wednesday that the Russian Federal Migration Service had issued a certificate confirming his application and permitting him to pass through Russian border control. A huge throng of reporters and camera crews gathered at the airport terminal in anticipation of Snowden's departure.
But about 6 p.m. Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden with his asylum request, emerged from the transit zone and said that the certificate had not been received.
He did not cite a reason for the delay but said officials had informed him that Snowden's situation "was not a standard process" and that the paperwork needed to allow him to depart the airport.
Kucherena said he had met with Snowden and described him as being in good spirits, with plans to learn Russian. He said he had taken him the copy of Crime and Punishment.
The Federal Migration Service declined to comment on the status of Snowden's asylum request. He has stayed at the airport's international transit zone since June 23, having flown here from Hong Kong, one step ahead of an extradition request from the United States.
While the bureaucratic process has unfolded slowly, Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have made clear that they have no intention of extraditing him to the United States — a position that has infuriated the Obama administration.
Putin has insisted that Snowden's presence in Russia should not harm relations between the two countries, even as the White House has signaled that President Barack Obama, amid mounting frustration, may cancel a planned summit meeting in Moscow in September.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday to reiterate the administration's assertion that Snowden should be returned to the United States for trial, the State Department's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said.