MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – The lawyers of whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview with Australian ABC channel on Wednesday denied reports that former NSA contractor, who was granted a temporary asylum in Russia, was preparing to go back to the United States to face charges.
“I think for the time being he is [staying in Moscow], I look at this more as a long distance run than a spring,” Jesselyn Radack, Snowden’s lawyer, said.
“For now he is in the safest place that he can be and Russia has indicated that it intends to plan on having him, allowing him to continue to stay,” she added, commenting on the recent statement made by German justice minister Heiko Maas who suggested Snowden should return to the United States and face the charges against him. Maas also said that whistleblower’s attorneys were negotiating on this issue with US security services.
Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia expires today. Earlier this month, he applied for an extension on his stay in the country.
Snowden received temporary asylum in Russia for one year on August 1, 2013, after living in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport for a month.
Snowden fled his country in June 2013, after leaking information about the extensive electronic surveillance programs conducted by the US government around the globe, including eavesdropping on American citizens and foreign leaders. The revelations have sparked domestic controversy and strained relations between the US and its partners worldwide.
The United States accused Snowden of theft, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified documents to an unauthorized person. Each of the three charges carries a maximum possible prison term of ten years.
US authorities have rejected claims that Snowden is a whistleblower, insisting that he committed crimes and should stand trial at home. The US charged Snowden with espionage and revoked his passport.