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Edward Snowden Receives Permanent Residency In Russia, Lawyer Says

American whistleblower Edward Snowden has obtained permanent residency rights in Russia, getting him one step closer to citizenship if he pursues it, according to his lawyer, Reuters reported Thursday.

Snowden, 37, was a contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency before he leaked domestic and international U.S. surveillance operations executed by the agency in 2013, Reuters reported. He was granted asylum in Russia the same year.

“His [Russian] residency permit was expiring and we asked to extend it,” Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, Reuters reported. “We submitted the documents in April and we got the permanent residency rights (on Thursday).”

Kucherena said the process of extending Snowden’s residency was prolonged by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. Snowden has not yet considered applying for a Russian passport, Kuckerena told the TASS Russian News Agency.

U.S. officials charged Snowden with espionage in 2013 and want him to face a criminal trial in the states, Reuters reported. President Donald Trump was considering pardoning Snowden in August.

Snowden has reportedly kept to himself while in Russia, Reuters reported. He commended the country’s beauty and citizens and has sometimes, but infrequently, criticized government policy on social media.

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