(re-ledes with latest developments)

HASH(0x9a72a20)

Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking classified intelligence, remains confined to the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport thanks to bureaucratic red tape, his Russian legal adviser said Wednesday.

"It's just that the processing of his application for temporary asylum is taking longer," attorney Anatoli Kucherena said.

The lawyer's statement came a few hours after Russia's Interfax news agency reported that Snowden was collected his possessions and preparing to leave the transit area.

Snowden filed an asylum request with Russia's Federal Immigration Service a week ago.

"He remains here, in the airport," Kucherena said of the American. "He is in a state of waiting. It's very important for him to receive a response. I'm not going to talk about dates, because we will only create confusion."

The case of the former U.S. intelligence contractor "is unique in the history of Russia and its solution takes time," the lawyer said.

Snowden is grateful to Russia and if Moscow grants him asylum, his current intention is to remain in the country and look for work, Kucherena said.

The 30-year-old Snowden has been stuck in the airport transit area since June 23, when he arrived on a commercial flight from Hong Kong.

Snowden said earlier this month that he was prepared to refrain from making further revelations about Washington's global electronic spying if Russia granted his request for political asylum.

He traveled to Russia with plans to board another flight for Cuba en route to asylum in Ecuador, but that plan fell apart and the U.S. government, which is charging him under the 1917 Espionage Act, revoked his passport.

While Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered Snowden refuge, he has struggled to find a way to reach Latin America without crossing the airspace of the United States or its allies.

Snowden exposed Washington's targeting of the telephonic and Internet communications of tens of millions of private citizens in the United States and abroad. EFE