As per a latest update by Russian Government, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has received a three year extension to his temporary right to stay in Russia, which means he may now stay there till 2020.

The extension was unveiled by Maria Zakharova, director of press at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the comments on her Facebook account. She writes that the deadline of obtaining a residence permit for Snowden has been extended “for a few more years”.

In pursuit to the U.S. Presidential elections, and the speculated good relations between Trump and Putin, Snowden’s situation appeared to be a matter of question. But now Russia seems to have no intent of handing over the whistleblower to the U.S anytime soon.

Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena revealed that Snowden will have a legal route to apply for permanent citizenship in Russia in the near future- which could happen considering his four years stay in the country passed without the violation of any law or any legal charge.

The whistleblower left U.S. in May 2013, along with a bunch of classified documents revealing informations about US and other government surveillance programs, and later handed it to journalists in Hong Kong. In the process, he was caught at the Moscow Airport; and since then, he has remained in Russia as a temporary citizen. Russia extended his protection period in mid 2014 providing him leave to stay three more years in the country.

Zakharova  pronounced that yesterday’s extension post on the social media was actually in response to an article written by former CIA deputy director, Michael Morell, and published in The Cipher Brief on Sunday, in which he has asked Putin to hand over Snowden to Trump as “the perfect inauguration gift”.

Morell wrote:

Seeing Snowden arrive in the U.S. and placed in handcuffs would go far in healing the wounds that exist between President-Elect Trump and his Intelligence Community.  The IC, more than anyone else, wants Snowden brought to justice.

That does appear to be a convoluted use of the term justice. But let’s leave it at that for now.

Snowden has always said that he would return to U.S. on the condition of being granted a fair trial, allowing him to mount a public interest defense in front of a jury, rather than prosecuting him under Espionage Act, which defies any such defense. Zakharova considers the prospect of calling Snowden a gift to Trump as  “hate speach” which reveals an “ideology of betrayal”. Snowden’s lawyer in Russia also remarks the statement as “utterly stupid”.

Zakharova said:

Snowden’s accusations were backed with undeniable facts and exposed the US activities to create a global cyber-spying and cyberattack system. There is only one country that is involved in cyberattacks, but there is no proof of its alleged crime. Instead of begging for forgiveness and stopping its doings in the global information space, Washington and its partners are working hard to shift the blame on Russia.

Only yesterday, the outgoing President Obama commuted the majority of a 35-year sentence handed to the whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who supplied diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks. It was being hoped that he might do something for Edward Snowden as well, however, that did not happen.

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