NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden has been given an additional three years’ stay in Russia, Fox News is reporting.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherna, told Russian news media outlets that Snowden has been given a permit, which is good for three years, that will allow him to travel freely within Russia, and to travel outside of Russia as long as he does not stay away for more than three months. The permit is not the same thing a political asylum; Snowden’s lawyer says that he can apply for asylum after five years. If he is granted asylum, he will be able to stay in Russia permanently.
Last summer, Snowden fled the U.S. and became stranded at a Moscow airport for several weeks, according to MSN, after the U.S. revoked his passport. He lived in the airport as a homeless fugitive, before being given temporary asylum. Since that time, he has lived quietly and modestly, albeit surrounded by tight security, in Russia. He’s been studying Russian and has taken a job in IT. According to his lawyer, he is not living at the expense of the Russian government, contrary to some reports, and is instead living off of his salary and off of funds donated to him.
“He moves around pretty freely, he goes to stores, museums, theatres, as photos published in the media show. But we also need to think about his safety.”
Russia’s decision to allow Snowden sanctuary after his leaks led to a souring of U.S.-Russian relations, according to The Washington Post. The situation has deteriorated to a war of wards not seen since the Cold War, largely due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
The leaks revealed a surveillance system in the U.S. that spies on Americans’ internet and telephone activity without warrants and without any sort of accountability. One leak even alleged that NSA agents passed around nude photos of Americans (see this Inquisitr article)
Some within the U.S. government have claimed that Snowden’s revelations have done harm to the U.S.’s security interests, both internally and abroad. In May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry publicly told Snowden to “man up and come back to the United States,” according to The Washington Post. Earlier this week, NPR reported that terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda, have adapted their methods in light of the information revealed by Snowden’s leaks. And earlier this week, news broke that other agents within the US have been leaking confidential security documents to journalists, according to CNN.
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Image courtesy of: Wired