NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia has been extended by three years, according to his lawyer, which would give him the legal right to apply for citizenship next year.
Snowden was granted asylum in Russia after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations in 2013. Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s attorney, confirmed Wednesday that the permit has been extended until 2020.
“In effect, he now has all grounds to receive citizenship in the future, over the course of a certain period, since under the law we have a period of residence on Russia soil of not less than 5 years [to receive Russian citizenship],” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Kucherena as saying, according to Reuters. “Now he has already been living on Russian territory for nearly four years, he does not violate the law, there are no complaints about him. That’s one of the reasons his residency permit was extended.”
Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Snowden’s right to stay had been extended “by a couple years” in a Facebook post Wednesday, according to The Independent.
Snowden recently said he believed there was a chance Russian President Vladimir Putin would hand him over as part of a deal once President-elect Donald Trump gets inaugurated.
“It’s possible. It would be crazy to dismiss the idea of this guy who presents himself as a big deal maker [Trump] as trying to make a deal,” he said.