Edward Snowden is likely staying in Russia for the foreseeable future.
The 31-year-old former NSA analyst, who famously leaked (and continues to leak) documents and anecdotes about the US government's massive surveillance initiative, has been granted a three-year residence permit in Russia, according to the AFP.
Shortly after The Guardian published leaked documents obtained by Snowden during his stint as a contractor with the National Security Agency, Snowden found himself in a Russian airport, awaiting asylum. He had applied to over a dozen countries, but Russia was the only one to grant his request. In August, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia – meaning that he had a year to live freely in the country.
Now, a year has passed, and Snowden has been given extra time. The new residence permit will allow Snowden to move "about freely and travel abroad," according to his lawyer. "In the future Edward will have to decide whether to continue to live in Russia and become a citizen or to return to the United States," he said.
Though Snowden is technically lying low in Russia, he is still influencing national debate (and sparking national outrage) with his frequent revelations about the NSA and its surveillance overreach. Most recently, in an interview with The Guardian, Snowden revealed that the NSA was pretty much getting off on people's sexts.
As far as coming home, Snowden is clearly hesitant as long as the US government considers him an outlaw.
“I’m not going to give myself a parade...But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell and serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening…and think they need to say something about it," Snowden said in an interview a couple of months ago.
And a jail cell is likely what he'd find if he stepped foot in the US. He currently faces charges of 'Theft of Government Property', 'Unauthorized Communications on National Defense Information' and 'Willful Communication of Classified Information to an Unauthorized Person'. Though the American public is somewhat undecided on whether Snowden is a patriot or a traitor, the US government has no such ambiguity in its position.
Image via The Guardian, YouTube screenshot