NSA leaker Edward Snowden asks to extend Russia asylum

Story highlights

Edward Snowden leaks info on U.S. spy programs; he's charged in the U.S.

Last summer, Russia granted him temporary asylum; the term expires July 31

His lawyer says Snowden made a formal request to extend his asylum in Russia

CNN  — 

Edward Snowden is hoping to stay in Russia a little, or perhaps a lot, longer.

The former National Security Agency whistleblower, who leaked secret information about U.S. spying programs, has formally requested that Russia’s government extend his temporary asylum, Russian state news reported Wednesday.

The asylum request was filed with the Moscow branch of the Federal Migration Service, said Snowden attorney Anatoly Kucherena, according to state-run Itar-Tass and RIA Novosti.

As to how long Snowden might extend his stay, RIA Novosti reported that Kucherena said, “We won’t say yet in what status we would like to receive the extension because that decision is up to the Federal [Migration] Service.”

Kucherena noted that Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia ends on July 31. He’d been holed up at a Moscow airport for five weeks before the Russian government granted asylum for one year on August 1.

Since that time, Snowden has kept busy working for a Russian website and speaking out about the disclosures about the U.S. government’s spying programs and processes that he helped make public.

Snowden’s disclosures in 2013 made him in an icon among those who praised him for risking his future to expose these secrets and a villain among those who accused him of being a lawbreaker who betrayed the United States.

The former government information technology contractor collected information on spy programs – in which the NSA mined phone and Internet metadata from thousands of people inside and outside of the United States – and exposed the programs to the media.

U.S. authorities have charged him with espionage and theft of government property.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on Snowden’s case in an interview this week with the German magazine Der Spiegel.

“I think he is a poor messenger for the message that he’s trying to take credit for,” she told the magazine.

“I think he could have provoked the debate in our country without stealing and distributing material that was government property and was of some consequence,” Clinton said.

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CNN’s Sara Mazloumsaki contributed to this report.