- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Russian government has extended the residence permit of renegade National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The official TASS news agency, quoting a law enforcement source, said the residency permit was automatically extended until June 15 after it expired on April 30.

Mr. Snowden is wanted in the United States for his role in taking some 1.7 million NSA documents and giving them to news organizations and anti-secrecy groups. The former NSA contractor fled to Moscow from Hong Kong in 2013.

He was charged in 2013 with two counts of espionage and theft of government property.

The TASS report said Mr. Snowden submitted all required paperwork for the residency extension in mid-March and later that month the Russian Interior Ministry automatically extended all residency permits because of the efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“Later, a decision will be made about whether it should be extended by three more years upon Snowden’s request and in line with the current legislation,” the report quoted the source as saying.

Moscow approved a three-year residency permit in August 2014 and extended another three years in 2017. Mr. Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said his client has been staying indoors to observe self-isolation during the pandemic.

Mr. Snowden has been hailed a hero by some and a traitor by others for his leaks, which exposed and compromised many top-secret NSA operations, including some surveillance activities.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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