Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden received permission to stay in Russia for an additional three years, his lawyer told local media Thursday, amid the worst U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War.
Snowden revealed troves of classified information on the American government’s surveillance activities before fleeing the U.S. more than a year ago. He was shortly thereafter granted temporary asylum in Russia, which expired Aug. 1.
His lawyer in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted in Russian news agencies saying Snowden received an extended temporary residency for three years, the Associated Press reports. However, Snowden has not received political asylum, which would allow him to stay indefinitely. Kucherena said applying for political asylum requires a separate process, but Kucherena did not say whether Snowden had begun that procedure.
The lawyer’s statements in Russia could not be immediately confirmed.
Snowden faces charges of espionage in the U.S., but Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., has refused to hand him over. The case was a major source of tension between the two countries even before relations deteriorated further following Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year and its suspected support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
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