Russia Grants Edward Snowden 3 More Years of Safe Harbor

The fugitive leaker will be able to travel abroad and in five years apply for Russian citizenship, according to his lawyer.

The U.S. and Britain spied on OPEC, according to documents released by Edward Snowden.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
Aug. 7, 2014, 2:49 a.m.

Ed­ward Snowden has been gran­ted a res­id­ence per­mit to stay freely in Rus­sia for an­oth­er three years, ac­cord­ing to the fu­git­ive leak­er’s law­yer.

The Rus­si­an news agency RT has quoted Anato­ly Kucher­ena as telling re­port­ers that Snowden re­ceived a “three-year res­id­ence per­mit” on Aug. 1.

Kucher­ena also said that Snowden will be able to “travel freely with­in the coun­try and go abroad” for no longer than three months. Snowden has been un­able to leave Rus­sia dur­ing the past year that he has lived there.

In ad­di­tion, Snowden will be eli­gible to ap­ply for Rus­si­an cit­izen­ship in five years.

Snowden’s asylum in Rus­sia ex­pired last week, prompt­ing many of his sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing former Rep. Ron Paul, to re­new calls that the U.S. should grant the 31-year-old com­puter tech­ni­cian clem­ency.

Snowden, a former Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency con­tract­or, skyrock­eted to in­ter­na­tion­al no­tori­ety last sum­mer, when he leaked clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to a hand-picked group of journ­al­ists that ex­posed in­tim­ate de­tails of the spy agency’s sweep­ing phone and In­ter­net sur­veil­lance pro­grams. Once Snowden came for­ward with his iden­tity, he fled Hong Kong and was on his way to Lat­in Amer­ica when the U.S. re­voked his pass­port, leav­ing him ma­rooned for weeks in a Mo­scow air­port.

The Krem­lin even­tu­ally de­cided to grant Snowden one-year tem­por­ary asylum, a de­cision that fur­ther soured the already de­teri­or­at­ing re­la­tion­ship between the U.S. and Rus­sia.

At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er and oth­er ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials had long in­dic­ated they might be open to con­ver­sa­tions with Snowden’s at­tor­neys if ap­proached with some sort of plea deal, but clem­ency was al­ways ruled off the table.

Snowden has main­tained that it would be not pos­sible for him to re­turn to the U.S. un­der cur­rent es­pi­on­age law, which he be­lieves would give him “no chance” of a fair tri­al. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has charged more people with vi­ol­at­ing the Es­pi­on­age Act than all pre­vi­ous pres­id­ents com­bined.

Earli­er this week, U.S. of­fi­cials re­portedly con­firmed that there is an­oth­er in­di­vidu­al leak­ing secrets about the gov­ern­ment’s sur­veil­lance pro­grams. That per­son has not been pub­licly iden­ti­fied.

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