Snowden wants to extend Russia refugee status: lawyer

4th June 2014, Comments 0 comments

Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is seeking to extend his refugee status in Russia, his lawyer said Wednesday, despite Snowden saying recently he wants to move to the United States or Brazil.

"Everything is in order. We are working on the questions of extending his status, so everything is normal," Anatoly Kucherena told the Interfax news agency.

Snowden flew into Russia from Hong Kong in June last year after shaking the intelligence establishment to its core with a series of leaks on mass surveillance in the United States and around the world.

He was only able to leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on August 1 after obtaining temporary refugee status, which lasts for one year.

He said in an interview with NBC television last month: "If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home."

He also told Brazil's Globo TV in an interview aired Sunday that he "would love to live in Brazil" and had formally applied for asylum there, although this was later denied by Brazil's foreign minister.

Washington says Snowden is welcome to return home, but only to face trial for exposing sensitive top-secret information it says aided US enemies.

Little is known of Snowden's life in Russia since he has only given a few tightly-controlled interviews.

"The question of his security is pretty relevant," Kucherena said.

"He is the most-pursued man on planet Earth."

He also said that since he began representing Snowden, he had received "phone calls from Hollywood saying 'Give us some material, we want to make a film!'"

Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted he would allow Snowden to extend his stay in Russia during a speech to business leaders in Saint Petersburg last month.

"How is he going to go on living? He has been living in our country up to now, but what next?," he said.

"What can we do? Russia isn't a country that hands over freedom fighters."

Putin also half-jokingly complained: "He hasn't given us any secrets, the scoundrel. He could at least have told us something -- we did give him asylum after all.

"But he says nothing. He only speaks out through some channels only known to himself, when he considers it necessary to publish something."

© 2014 AFP

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