RUSSIA — Edward Snowden is hoping to stay in Russia a little, or perhaps a lot, longer.
The former National Security Agency whisteblower — who leaked secret information about U.S. spying programs — has formally requested that Russia’s government extend his temporary asylum in the country, Russian state news reported Wednesday.
The asylum request was filed with the Moscow branch of the Federal Migration Service, said Snowden attorney Anatoly Kucherena, according to state-run Itar-Tass and RIA Novosti.
As to how long Snowden might extend his say, Kucharena said — according to RIA Novosti: “We won’t say yet in what status we would like to receive the extension because that decision is up to the Federal [Migration] Service.”
Kucherena noted that Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia ends on July 31. He’d been holed up at a Moscow airport for five weeks before the Russian government granted asylum for one year on August 1.
Since that time, Snowden has kept busy working for a Russian website and speaking out — including to journalists — about the disclosures about the U.S. government’s spying programs and processes that he helped make public.
Snowden’s disclosures in 2013 made him in an icon among those who praised him for risking his future to expose these secrets and a villain among those who accused him of being a lawbreaker who betrayed the United States.
The former government information technology contractor collected information on spy programs — in which the NSA mined phone and Internet metadata from thousands of people inside and outside of the United States — and exposed the programs to the media.
U.S. authorities have charged him with espionage and theft of government property.