MOSCOW — Edward J. Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency analyst who fled to Russia last year after releasing reams of sensitive U.S. government documents, has applied to have his temporary asylum extended, his lawyer was quoted as telling Russian news agencies Wednesday.
Anatoly Kucherna, the attorney, said he had submitted documents to the Moscow branch of the Federal Migration Service for Mr. Snowden to remain in Russia after his initial one-year asylum expires July 31. “We have submitted documents for extending his stay in Russia,” Mr. Kucherna was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The decision by Russia to grant Mr. Snowden asylum last year was a major source of tension with Washington. It was one of several events, including the annexation of Crimea in March, that brought ties between Russia and the United States to their lowest point since the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991.
Mr. Snowden’s lawyer did not specify on what grounds — such as political asylum or fleeing prosecution — he had submitted the application, saying the migration service would ultimately make that determination. “I will not say for now under which status we would like to get this extension because the decision rests with the Federal Migration Service,” he said.
Mr. Snowden, a fugitive since fleeing the United States last summer, was charged with espionage and theft of government property. He ended up in Russia almost by accident in June of last year. Seeking to travel from Hong Kong to Latin America, he was transiting through Moscow when the United States revoked his passport.
Not much about Mr. Snowden’s daily life in Russia has been revealed, but he has been reportedly seeking to move to another country. He risks being sent to the United States, however, if his plane is forced down in a country that has an extradition treaty with Washington.
The Federal Migration Service would not comment to the Russian news agencies about the application, saying it was a private matter, but there has been no indication that Russia would expel him.
Mr. Snowden maintains that he is a whistle-blower who brought to light the previously unknown, massive extent to which the U.S. government was spying on ordinary citizens and foreign governments in hunting for terrorism suspects. Numerous senior government officials have called him a traitor.United States - North America - United States government - Russia - Eastern Europe - Europe