- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2020

Edward Snowden is preparing to ask the Russian government to extend his residence permit, a lawyer for the fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor reportedly said Friday.

Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer representing Mr. Snowden, discussed his client’s residency status during an event in Moscow, multiple regional media outlets reported.

“His residence permit will expire in April 2020, and we are working to extend it for several years,” said Mr. Kucherena, the state-run TASS agency reported in English.

“At the request of Edward, I am preparing documents for the migration service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the extension,” added Mr. Kucherena, the privately owned Interfax outlet reported in Russian.

Mr. Snowden, 36, has been criminally charged in the U.S. in connection with admittedly leaking a trove of classified National Security Agency material to media outlets in 2013.

He had been hiding in Hong Kong when he was publicly revealed as the source of the leaks, and the U.S. State Department revoked his American passport shortly afterward.

Nonetheless, Mr. Snowden managed to board an international flight that stopped at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow where he subsequently became stranded for several weeks.

The Russian government ultimately granted temporary asylum to Mr. Snowden, which was followed by Moscow issuing him a three-year residence permit in 2014 and again in 2017.

However, he has spoken critically about Russia in the interim and indicated he would like to reside elsewhere.

“It was not my choice to be here, and this is what people forget,” Mr. Snowden told NPR last year. “It was not my choice to live in Russia.”

Messages requesting comment from Mr. Snowden and his Russian and U.S. lawyers were not immediately answered Friday.

He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars in the U.S. if put on trial and convicted of the charges brought against him, which includes two counts of violating the U.S. Espionage Act and theft of government property.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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