The residence permit of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified documents on US surveillance programmes in 2013 and has been living in Russia, was automatically extended until July 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the country's measures to curb the infection, a law enforcement source said.
Snowden's residence permit expired on April 30. He submitted all documents for its extension in mid-March, TASS News Agency reported on Saturday.
In late March, the Russian Interior Ministry decided to automatically extend residence permits for all holders.
"Due to anti-coronavirus measures, Snowden, just like all other residence permit holders, had this document automatically extended until June 15. Therefore, his residence permit remains valid. Later, a decision will be made about whether it should be extended by three more years upon Snowden's request and in line with the current legislation," the source told TASS News Agency.
Meanwhile, Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told TASS that his client stays in home and observes the self-isolation regime.
"There is nothing we can say as long as self-isolation remains in place. We are all staying home," he said.
In 2013, Snowden leaked information on the methods of electronic surveillance by US intelligence services, including illegally wiretapping foreign leaders.
Fleeing from prosecution, Snowden sent requests for asylum to some countries, including Russia.
On August 1, 2014, he received a Russian residence permit valid for three years, which was later extended for another three years.
In February, Kucherena announced that Snowden's residence permit in Russia would expire in April and the paperwork was underway to extend it. On April 16, he said the request had been filed.
In the US, Snowden is charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act.
He may face up to 10 years in prison on each of the counts.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - IANS)