WikiLeaks: Snowden Given Permanent Resident Status by Russia

grarpamp grarpamp at
Sun Oct 25 00:52:39 PDT 2020

Edward Snowden, in Russia Since 2013, Is Granted Permanent Residency

The former intelligence contractor still hopes to return to the United
States. But the Russian authorities have given him the right to stay
in Russia indefinitely.
Edward J. Snowden speaking via video link at a conference in Berlin
last year. Recent changes to Russian law helped him win permanent
Edward J. Snowden speaking via video link at a conference in Berlin
last year. Recent changes to Russian law helped him win permanent
residency.Credit...Jorg Carstensen/DPA, via Agence France-Presse —
Getty Images
Anton Troianovski

By Anton Troianovski

    Oct. 23, 2020

MOSCOW — Edward J. Snowden, the former American intelligence
contractor whose 2013 leaks of top-secret documents set off a
worldwide debate about government surveillance, is now a permanent
resident of Russia.

Mr. Snowden, 37, has been living in exile in Moscow since 2013, when
he fled to the Russian capital after giving journalists access to a
trove of National Security Agency documents detailing the American
intelligence service’s mass surveillance programs. On Thursday, the
country’s immigration authorities granted Mr. Snowden permanent
residency, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, wrote on Facebook.

Mr. Kucherena posted a photograph of himself standing next to a
smiling Mr. Snowden, in a dark red shirt and a black suit jacket,
holding a blue, passport-style permanent residency document emblazoned
with the Russian coat of arms.

“People ask me if Edward is planning on getting Russian citizenship,”
Mr. Kucherena wrote. “For now, he has not told me this. He describes
his end goal as being a return to the United States, but only if he is
guaranteed a fair trial.”

There was no comment from Mr. Snowden himself on his newfound
permanent residency.

President Trump said in August that he would “take a very good look
at” a pardon for the former intelligence contractor. Mr. Snowden told
the German newspaper Die Zeit last month that he was encouraged by Mr.
Trump’s comments, even if no pardon was imminent.

“It’s a continued normalization of the conversation about this,” Mr.
Snowden said, referring to a possible pardon in the United States.
“Realistically, I think we are still early in the phase of that.”

Changes last year to Russia’s immigration law that have made it easier
for foreigners to get permanent residency cleared the path for Mr.
Snowden to stay in the country for as long as he wanted. Several
prominent Western supporters of President Vladimir V. Putin —
including the American actor Steven Seagal and the French actor Gérard
Depardieu — have already gone further and received Russian

But Mr. Snowden is a special case. He is both a living symbol of Mr.
Putin’s relish in needling the United States and a hero to many who
say he laid bare breathtaking abuse by American intelligence agencies
of the power to monitor the online activity of people around the

In Moscow, Mr. Snowden has led both a mysterious and active lifestyle.
He keeps his specific location and movements a secret, but chimes in
on online privacy issues on his Twitter account, published a memoir
last year and, before the pandemic, often appeared at technology
conferences via video link. He has married his American girlfriend,
learned Russian and describes Moscow as a “beautiful city.”
ImageMr. Snowden published a memoir last year. He has lived a private
life in Moscow, but has also been active in debates on privacy issues.
Mr. Snowden published a memoir last year. He has lived a private life
in Moscow, but has also been active in debates on privacy
issues.Credit...Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In the United States, intelligence officials and politicians from both
parties have said Mr. Snowden was working with Russian intelligence
agencies. Mr. Snowden has denied those accusations, and he has at
times lobbed veiled criticism at Mr. Putin; after the poisoning of the
Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny in August, Mr. Snowden on
Twitter called it a possible “crime against the whole of Russia.”

“The sad reality is that even in the United States, targeted killings
are happening frequently,” Mr. Snowden elaborated in the interview
with Die Zeit. “It’s just the means that’s different.”

Mr. Snowden was referring to targeted killings of terrorism suspects
around the world by American drones. Of Mr. Navalny’s case, Mr.
Snowden said: “There needs to be an investigation, and anyone involved
needs to go to jail.”

The pandemic delayed Mr. Snowden’s residency permit application, his
lawyer said, and it appears to have made the exile’s life in Moscow
even more cloistered than it already was. When Moscow was under
lockdown in April and May, the city authorities required residents to
obtain a digital permit for almost any trip outside. Mr. Snowden told
Die Zeit he never once sought such a permit because he disagreed with
the government’s brute-force approach to keeping people inside their

“The politics of the place are as troubled as ever but the people are
fundamentally good people,” Mr. Snowden said of Russia. “As I would
say in many countries, it is never the people you have to worry about,
it’s always the government.”

Mr. Kucherena, Mr. Snowden’s Russian lawyer, is also chairman of the
Public Chamber of the Russian Interior Ministry, which plays an
advisory role with the country’s top law-enforcement body. On
Thursday, alongside his note on Facebook announcing Mr. Snowden’s
permanent residency, Mr. Kucherena also posted a picture of a gift he
had received from his client to commemorate the occasion.

It was a photograph of Mr. Snowden and Mr. Kucherena exiting the
transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo after Russia granted him asylum
in August 2013. The photograph is captioned in Russian: “With thanks
for the years of freedom.”

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