Moscow, July 29: Fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden could be placed in a temporary refugee shelter outside Moscow if his asylum request is approved by Russia, officials said on Monday.
"The thing is that there are no centres accommodating refugees in Moscow," Xinhua quoted Olga Kirillova, chief of the Moscow department of the Federal Migration Service (FMS), as saying.
Sheremetyevo airport, where Snowden has been stranded for over a month, is located in the Moscow region.
"He has filed his request with the Moscow regional unit of the FMS. I cannot say where he may be assigned," Kirillova said.
Snowden faces espionage charges in the US for disclosing classified information about an intelligence surveillance project code-named PRISM. He filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia earlier this month.
US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul earlier said that Washington has asked Moscow not to "extradite" Snowden but to "hand him over" to US authorities.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would not hand Snowden over to his home country.
Vladimir Volokh, head of the FMS' public council, said Snowden could be stuck in Sheremetyevo airport for another half a year while his legal status was clarified.
"Russian law does not stipulate the duration of time for which a foreign citizen may stay in the airport's transit zone or liability for staying in a transit zone without documents," the justice ministry said.