Snowden given permanent residency in Russia: attorney
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor charged with espionage in 2013, was granted permanent residency in Russia, according to multiple reports.
Snowden has lived in Russia since 2013 to avoid prosecution in the United States. He was charged after releasing classified documents on American surveillance programs.
“Today, Snowden was handed a residency permit for an unlimited period of time,” Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena told Russia’s state Tass news agency, The Associated Press reported.
Kucherena also told the Interfax news agency that his application was submitted in April, but approval was delayed due to the lockdowns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the AP.
The attorney also said Snowden is not currently applying for Russian citizenship.
The whistleblower has previously said he is willing to return to the U.S. if he is guaranteed a fair trial.
Snowden last month agreed to pay over $5 million in profits from his book and speaking fees to the U.S. government. A federal judge ruled in favor of the Justice Department in a lawsuit filed against Snowden arguing that his autobiography violated a nondisclosure agreement.
As of last month, Snowden had earned over $4.2 million from the book sales.
President Trump earlier this year said he was considering a pardon for Snowden, telling reporters at a news conference that “There are many, many people — it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.”