Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has been granted with permanent residency in Russia, said his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.
In an interview with the state-run news agency RIA Novosti, Kucherena said the residency given to Snowden in the past has been extended and is now indefinite.
The 37-year-old whistleblower was accused of espionage and theft of government property after he revealed in 2013 that the US government was spying on its citizens, among many other classified information.
He has since been living in exile in Moscow after travelling to Hong Kong, and the Russian government granted him asylum, giving him a residency permit valid until 2017 that was extended until 2020.
Snowden originally requested for a three-year extension of his permit, which was set to expire in April 2020, but was not processed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When the lawyer was asked if Snowden plans to apply for citizenship in Russia, Kucherena answered, “He will make the decision himself.”
In 2016, the US Congress accused that Snowden had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials as he arrived in Russia, in which Snowden firmly denied.
Instead, Snowden said he would be willing to return to the US and face the allegations thrown at him if the government can guarantee him a fair trial.
“And of course I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal,” said Snowden.
“But if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom-line demand that we all have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial.”
And that’s the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” he added.
“I’m not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pardon. I’m not asking for a pass. What I’m asking for is a fair trial. And this is the bottom-line that any American should require.”