Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. Image: file photo.
Edward Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena announced Thursday that the whistleblower has obtained permanent residency rights from the Russian government. The 37-year-old former NSA analyst has been living in Russia under temporary residence since June 2013.
According to Russian news agency TASS, which revealed the story on Thursday, Edward Snowden’s residence permit expired last April. It was however automatically extended due to delays in the administrative formalities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anatoly Kucherena clarified that although the whistleblower has obtained a permanent residence permit, he does not plan to apply for Russian citizenship.
Edward Snowden fled to Russia, via Hong Kong, in 2013, after revealing the NSA’s mass surveillance program to the general public, with the help of American and British journalists. He was indicted in the United States on two counts of espionage.
President Trump offered a potential pardon this summer, saying in an interview that the former NSA analyst “was not treated fairly” for his role in exposing the NSA surveillance program that targeted and spied on both Americans, foreigners and world leaders.
However, despite President Trump’s statements, the White House has taken no action to pardon the whistleblower, who remains disparaged in the US intelligence community. If Edward Snowden returns to the United States without being pardoned, he faces up to 20 years in prison, if tried and convicted.