Another year in Russia for Snowden? Lawyer seeks to extend stay
The former NSA contractor's lawyer tells the Monitor he has filled all the necessary paperwork for his client to continue living in Russia, which gave him sanctuary last year.
His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, says he has filed all the necessary documents to extend his client's stay and is waiting for the immigration authorities to respond.
"He has the right to prolong his stay here after a year, and as you might know, on July 31 Snowden's first year in Russia is over," Mr. Kucherena told the Monitor by phone. "Russian law stipulates that we collect and file all the appropriate documents for a renewal, and we actually did this some time ago."
Mr. Snowden famously spent several weeks in legal limbo at the transit lounge in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport last year, while the Kremlin deliberated over what to do with him. Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB officer, repeatedly suggested that the pro-transparency, anti-government secrecy activist should just move along to some other destination. But with Moscow staunchly refusing to extradite him to the US, and Washington apparently blocking all possible routes out, Mr. Putin eventually acknowledged that Snowden was "trapped" in Russia.
Snowden pocketed a document granting him a year's asylum in Russia, and walked away from the airport on July 31. He has since laid low somewhere near Moscow, surfacing only to do prearranged media interviews and to greet selected visitors. Those have included his father and a group of US security critics who handed him a whistleblower award.
Snowden has repeatedly insisted that he shared none of the information that he carried away from the US with Russian secret services. For their part, the Russians aver that they "learned nothing new" from the Snowden leaks published by Western newspapers.
Speaking to NBC's Brian Williams in May, Snowden said he was doing OK, but admitted, "I never intended to end up in Russia."
Experts say Snowden's refugee status is almost certain to be be renewed for another year.
"I don't think Russia has any special interests in keeping him here. We had to face the reality that he was in a box constructed by the US and couldn't go anywhere else," says Yevgeny Minchenko, director of the independent International Institute of Political Expertise in Moscow. "I just feel sorry for him."