Russia grants whistleblower Edward Snowden permanent residency rights, lawyer says


US former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden is displayed on a screen as he speaks during a video conference to present his book titled “Permanent Record” on September 17, 2019 in Berlin. (Photo by Jörg Carstensen / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read JORG CARSTENSEN/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

MOSCOW (NewsNation Now) — Russia has granted U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden permanent residency rights, the TASS news agency cited Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as saying on Thursday.

Snowden fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after he leaked secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency.

U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges brought in 2013.

“His (Russian) residency permit was expiring and we asked to extend it,” Kucherena, his Russian lawyer, told Reuters. Kucherena said the coronavirus pandemic had made the process longer than usual.

“We submitted the documents in April and we got the permanent residency rights (on Thursday),” he said.

Kucherena told TASS his client was not yet considering applying for a Russian passport.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in August he was considering a pardon for Snowden.

TASS is the largest news agency in Russia and is owned by the federal government. NewsNation is working to indendently confirm this news.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.  

Reuters contributed to this report.

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