Russia just made Edward Snowden’s life a lot easier. The fugitive doesn’t want to return to the U.S., and now it looks like he won’t have to anytime soon, as a senior Russian official opened the door to Snowden staying there indefinitely.
Russia will extend Snowden’s one-year asylum and will not send him back to his home country, said Alexy Pushkov, the head of the country’s Foreign Affairs Committee in its lower house, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to CNN. The country previously granted Snowden asylum as a “temporary refugee” in August.
Snowden’s whereabouts and globe-trotting hunt for safe harbor from U.S. authorities has captivated much of the world since his leaks began last June. He fled from Hong Kong to Russia and had hoped to make it to Cuba before the U.S. froze his passport, leaving him trapped in a Moscow airport in a sort of legal purgatory. Russia provided Snowden with the one-year asylum request, a decision that further strained the country’s relations with the U.S.
Russia’s announcement comes a day after Snowden responded to questions posted on Twitter and said, among other things, that his return to the U.S. was “not possible” under current espionage law, specifically the Whistleblower Protection Act. Snowden added that he believed he had “no chance” of earning a fair trial.
In response, Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that he would “engage in conversations” if Snowden’s attorneys approached him with intent for a plea deal. But Holder, remaining consistent with the administration, ruled off any possibility of clemency.
Earlier in the week, Snowden dismissed allegations, lobbed by House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers and others that he was working for Russia as a spy, as “absurd.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin told This Week‘s George Stephanopoulos that Snowden could attend the Olympic Games in Sochi next month, adding that he has a “right to travel freely across the country” like anyone else.