MOSCOW: The lawyer of Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower granted asylum by Russia on Thursday, gave fresh details of how his client had spent the past 40 days at the Moscow airport while waiting for the Kremlin to determine his fate.

The American had little to do besides surf the internet and read, Kucherena said.

He said he had chosen a number of classic books to help Snowden understand the mentality of the Russian people: Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, a collection of stories by Chekhov, and writings by the historian Nikolai Karamzin.

Snowden quickly finished Crime and Punishment. After reading selections from Karamzin, a 19th-century writer who penned the first comprehensive history of the Russian state, he asked for the author’s complete works. Kucherena also gave Snowden an alphabet book to help him to start learning Russian.

Snowden was not able to go outside — “he breathes disgusting air, the air of the airport,” Kucherena said — but nevertheless remained in good health and told his lawyer he had “been in worse circumstances”. Nonetheless, the psychological pressure of the waiting game took its toll.

“It’s hard for him, when he’s always in a state of expectation,” Kucherena said. “On the inside, Edward is absolutely independent, he absolutely follows his convictions.

As for the reaction, he is convinced and genuinely believes he did it first of all so that Americans and all people would find out that they are spying on us.”

A survey showed that 43 per cent of Russians supported granting Snowden asylum and 51 per cent approved of his whistleblowing activities. Kucherena said he had received numerous letters from Russians offering Snowden lodging, protection and money, as well as from women interested in him romantically.

By arrangement with the Guardian

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