MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – Fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied to have his temporary asylum in Russia extended for another year, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Thursday.
“Edward is still in Russia, we have recently prepared and submitted a package of documents to receive a temporary political asylum," LifeNews TV quoted the lawyer as saying.
Kucherena said Snowden’s request should be resolved “today or tomorrow." “If this is issue not resolved, we will clear up the situation,” the lawyer added.
“As Edward’s documents have been accepted, he must wait for a decision from the Federal Migration Service,” his lawyer said.
Speaking on Snowden’s life in Russia, Kucherena said this year has been very “fruitful.” “This year, as he has been living in Russia, was useful for him as he learned about Russia and Russian culture. I think this year has been interesting and helpful for him,” the lawyer said, adding that Snowden has started learning the Russian language. “We already discuss some events in Russian,” Kucherena said.
While his circumstances influence Snowden’s everyday life due to security concerns, the lawyer said this does not mean that he cannot move freely. “He can freely visit any Russian cities and show interest in culture and routine life,” Kucherena said adding that Snowden has taken advantage of this.
Another lawyer for Snowden, Jesselyn Radack, in an interview with Australia’s ABC television channel on Wednesday denied reports that the former NSA contractor was preparing to go back to the United States to face charges.
Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia expires on Thursday. The American whistleblower 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 has charged Snowden with espionage and revoked his passport.