The Russian government has awarded Edward Snowden an “open-ended” residence permit, the Russian news site TASS reported Thursday. The move likely means that the former Central Intelligence Agency employee and contractor for the National Security Agency, who faces espionage charges in the US, may never see his day in an American court.
“Snowden was granted an open-ended residence permit earlier today,” Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told TASS on Thursday.
Kucherena reportedly added that Snowden was not seeking Russian citizenship.
Snowden, 37, fled to Russia after illegally disclosing troves of classified material in 2013, which revealed the NSA had tapped into millions of Americans’ phone records as part of an intelligence gathering operation. On Aug. 1, 2014, Snowden received a Russian temporary residence permit — he’s since described his presence in Russia as “exile.”
CNN badly misreported this.
A) This is not a settlement; I didn't agree to it.
B) The judgement from this censorship case is not enforceable while I am in exile, but I've never had that much money anyway.
Better headline: "US could gain up to $5m by pardoning Edward Snowden." https://t.co/8jp6IZnOKC
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 22, 2020
Snowden still faces US federal criminal charges for his alleged theft of government property and unauthorized communication of national defense and classified information. The former NSA contractor faces two espionage charges, each of which reportedly carries a 10-year prison term.
Snowden’s previous Russian residency permit, which was set to expire on April 30, was automatically extended to June 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, TASS reported.
“Now, regarding Edward Snowden and the extension of his residence permit: Snowden is a law-abiding person, and he resides on the territory of Russia,” Kucherena told TASS in September.
On Sept. 29, a US federal court ruled that Snowden owes the US government more than $5.2 million because he didn’t allow the CIA and the NSA to review his book, Permanent Record, before its publication.