Edward Snowden has been granted permanent residency in Russia.
The National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower has been living in Russia since he fled the US in 2013 after leaking classified information about government surveillance. He was charged with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
“Today, Snowden was handed a residency permit for an unlimited period of time,” Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena tells The Guardian. Immigration authorities received the application in April, but the pandemic and lockdown delayed a final decision. Snowden is not applying for Russian citizenship, Kucherena says.
Snowden said last year that returning to the US “is the ultimate goal,” but the US government has “refused to guarantee” him a fair trial. President Trump has taken an inconsistent stance on Snowden, calling for his execution in 2014 but recently floating the prospect of a pardon. “I’m going to take a very good look at it,” he said in August, but no action has been taken.
In 2016, President Obama said he can’t pardon somebody “who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves.”
In Moscow, Snowden has live-streamed talks to various conferences and written a book. The DOJ subsequently filed a lawsuit to confiscate all proceeds made from the memoir, and a court ruled in the government’s favor in December.