Snowden asks Russia to extend asylum

US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has asked Russian authorities to prolong his asylum in the country, his lawyer said.

Snowden filed a request with the Russian Migration Service, Anatoly Kucherena said, according to the Interfax news agency. The former intelligence analyst received temporary refugee status in Russia after arriving in Moscow in June 2013.

His one-year renewable asylum runs out on July 31, Kucherena said.

The lawyer did not say for which time period Snowden applied. Russia’s Federal Migration Service refused to comment. Snowden caused a sensation last year by disclosing a massive telecommunications and email surveillance programme run by his former employer, the US National Security Agency (NSA).

He was subsequently charged by the United States with espionage and theft of government property, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Snowden managed to escape from Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow despite the fact that the US had revoked his passport. Russia’s decision to grant him asylum caused a rift in ties between Moscow and Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied allegations that Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence services and has called him a “human rights activist.”

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Snowden asks Russia to extend asylum