Russia gives Snowden 3-year residency

The source of the NSA digital surveillance leak has been identified as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old defense contractor. (Credit: Newsbreaker via Twitter)

MOSCOW — Edward Snowden, who leaked secret information about U.S. spying programs, has been granted an extension to stay in Russia for three more years, his attorney said in a televised press conference in Moscow Thursday.

Snowden recently formally requested that Russia’s government extend his temporary asylum, and Snowden attorney Anatoly Kucherena said the request had been accepted.

“As of August 1, 2014, Snowden has received residency for three years,” Kucherena told reporters Thursday.

Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia ended on July 31. He’d been holed up at a Moscow airport for five weeks before the Russian government granted asylum for one year on August 1, 2013.

Snowden has kept busy working for a Russian website and speaking out on the disclosures about the U.S. government’s spying programs and processes that he helped make public.

Snowden’s disclosures in 2013 made him an icon among those who praised him for risking his future to expose these secrets and a villain among those who accused him of being a lawbreaker who betrayed the United States.

The former government information technology contractor collected information on spy programs — in which the NSA mined phone and Internet metadata from thousands of people inside and outside of the United States — and exposed the programs to the media.

U.S. authorities have charged him with espionage and theft of government property.

No change in U.S. stance

The White House says the extension of Snowden’s asylum in Russia doesn’t change the U.S. government’s desire for his return.

“There’s been no change in our position: Mr. Snowden faces felony charges here in the United States,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

“He should return to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process and protections.”

U.S. intelligence agencies fear Snowden has achieved celebrity as a leaker and could be inspiring others to disclose classified national security information.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently commented on Snowden’s case in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel.

“I think he is a poor messenger for the message that he’s trying to take credit for,” she told the magazine.

“I think he could have provoked the debate in our country without stealing and distributing material that was government property and was of some consequence,” Clinton said.


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