Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor that leaked the agency’s surveillance programs to newspapers all over the world for the past two months, is currently holed up in a Moscow airport as he awaits news on his asylum requests. It seems, however, that he doesn’t want to leave Russia anytime soon.
RT reports that Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, has said that the whistleblower has no plans to leave Russia at the moment. Last week, Snowden formally submitted a request that he be granted temporary asylum in Russia. It looks like that temporary asylum may last longer than he anticipated as the U.S. is doing its best to make sure he isn’t granted asylum anywhere else.
Interestingly enough, Kucherena also says that Snowden may request full Russian citizenship in the future if his asylum requests to South American countries don’t pan out. Of course, he will have to gain asylum in Russia first, and that may be somewhat problematic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that he would grant Snowden asylum only if he stopped leaking secrets that harm the U.S. Later on, he said that “any activity of [Snowden] that could damage US-Russian relations is unacceptable for us.” Snowden is reportedly finished with leaking so it shouldn’t be too much a problem going forward.
Snowden’s main concern now is the U.S. Kucherena says that he’s afraid “of torture, and that he could get executed.” It’s certainly in the realm of possibility as being convicted under the Espionage Act can lead to an execution sentence. He could agree to return to the U.S. if the Obama administration agreed to not charge him with violating the Espionage Act, but that’s a long shot.
For now, Snowden will continue to live out of the transit zone in a Moscow airport. If he is ever granted asylum in Russia, he will be given all the rights and privileges of a Russian citizen. Even then, however, his life will probably never return to anything resembling normal.