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Iran Press TV

Russia grants Edward Snowden residency for 3 more years

Iran Press TV

Fri Aug 8, 2014 4:48PM GMT

Russia has allowed US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to stay in the country for three more years, his lawyer says.

Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters on Thursday that the former NSA employee has been granted permission to remain in Russia until August 2017 and can apply for Russian citizenship should he extend his stay for one year beyond that.

"Starting August 1, 2014, Edward Snowden has received a residence permit for a three-year term," Kucherena said.

The lawyer said Snowden has not been granted official political asylum, which would allow him to stay in Russia permanently and must be decided through a separate process.

Kucherena said Snowden has not decided whether to try to remain in Russia permanently.

Snowden began leaking classified intelligence documents in June 2013, revealing the extent of the NSA's spying activities.

He revealed that the spy agency has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans and foreign nationals as well as political leaders around the world.

Snowden fled his country to avoid espionage charges. In August 2013, Russia granted him asylum for one year.

Many regard Snowden as a whistleblower and a national hero for blowing the lid off the US government's global surveillance operations.

A US Department of Defense report has said the extent of damage to the US national security from the leak of secret NSA documents by Snowden is staggering.

"The scope of the compromised knowledge related to US intelligence capabilities is staggering," according to a copy of the Defense Intelligence Agency's classified assessment obtained by The Guardian.

Moscow's decision last year to grant temporary asylum to Snowden for a year was a major factor in the deteriorating US-Russian relations, which have declined to Cold War lows over the conflict in Ukraine.

The announcement to extend Snowden's stay came on the day Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would ban all meat, produce and milk imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway for a year.

AHT/GJH



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