Sunday 21 December 2014

Snowden can stay in Russia - lawyer

Published 07/08/2014 | 11:40

Edward Snowden worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency and is wanted by the US for leaking details about once-secret surveillance programmes (AP/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)
Edward Snowden worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency and is wanted by the US for leaking details about once-secret surveillance programmes (AP/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

Edward Snowden has been granted permission to stay in Russia for three more years, his lawyer says.

The NSA whistleblower was last year granted temporary asylum of one year, but that ran out on August 1.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted by Russian news agencies saying Mr Snowden has been granted residency for three more years.

He said Mr Snowden had not been granted political asylum. That status would allow him to stay in Russia permanently but must be decided by a separate procedure, Mr Kucherena said.

He did not say whether his client is seeking it.

Mr Snowden was stranded in a Moscow airport last year en route from Hong Kong to Cuba, shortly after he released extensive documentation about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

He reportedly spent a month in the airport before receiving the temporary asylum, but was seen only at one tightly restricted meeting with human rights representatives.

Since receiving the temporary asylum, his whereabouts have not been made public.

The case has been a significant contributor to tensions between Russia and the United States.

"I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home," Mr Snowden said in a television interview in May.

"Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for the public and the government to decide.

"But, if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home."

The lawyer said Mr Snowden is working in the information technology field and that holding a job was a key consideration in extending his residency. He did not give details of where Mr Snowden is working.

He also said his client is under the protection of a private guard service.

Mr Snowden faces espionage charges in the US that carry a sentence of up to 30 years, but Russia has no extradition treaty with Washington.

Mr Kucherena was also quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that he intends to publish a novel that includes elements of the Snowden case.

He claimed rights to the book have been sold to American film director Oliver Stone.

Press Association

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