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Edward Snowden given leave to remain in Russia for ‘a couple more years’ | US news | The Guardian

Edward Snowden appears via video link during a conference in Argentina in November 2016.

foto – Edward Snowden appears via video link during a conference in Argentina in November 2016. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

theguardian.com – Edward Snowden given leave to remain in Russia for ‘a couple more years’ Official confirms former US intelligence contractor who revealed the extent of NSA surveillance has had residency extended in Moscowvideo – Barack Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence

Russia has extended Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in the country by two years and will not extradite the whistleblower to the US even if relations improve under incoming president Donald Trump, an official has said.

Intelligence experts urge Obama to end Edward Snowden’s ‘untenable exile’

Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that Snowden’s right to stay in Russia was recently extended “by a couple of years”. Her post came in response to a suggestion from the former acting CIA director Michael Morell that Vladimir Putin might hand over Snowden to the US, despite there being no extradition treaty between the countries.

Morell wrote a column for the website The Cipher Brief in which he said handing over Snowden could be “the perfect inauguration gift” from the Russian president to Trump.

Zakharova mocked Morell for not knowing, despite his intelligence background, that Snowden’s leave to remain had been extended. She added that it was unthinkable for Russia to hand over Snowden.

“The essence of what this CIA man is suggesting is the ideology of betrayal. You’ve let it slip, Mr Morell, that for your agency it’s quite normal to offer up people as gifts, and to give up those who are seeking protection.”

The announcement came hours after the outgoing US president, Barack Obama, commuted the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Manning, who was serving a 35-year prison term, will go free in May.

Snowden has not commented on the apparent extension of his right to stay in Russia but commented on Obama’s decision to free Manning on Tuesday evening. He wrote:

In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer! https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/chelsea-manning-sentence-commuted-barack-obama 

The whistleblower, who has been imprisoned for six years for leaking state secrets, is now set to go free on 17 May  – theguardian.com

Snowden later added: “Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama.”

In November, Snowden said he believed there was a chance Putin might hand him over to Trump as part of a deal. “It’s possible. It would be crazy to dismiss the idea of this guy who presents himself as a big deal maker [Trump] as trying to make a deal,” he said.

Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong in June 2013, and spent five weeks at the airport before he was eventually given the right to remain in Russia temporarily. He was granted a three-year residence permit in August 2014.

During his early period in Moscow, Snowden did not criticise Putin or the Russian system, but he has recently become more outspoken about his adopted country. He has been strongly critical of Russian laws to police the internet and has also allowed for the possibility that Russian government hackers broke into Democratic party servers, as US intelligence believes but Russia has repeatedly denied.

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Sorgente: Edward Snowden given leave to remain in Russia for ‘a couple more years’ | US news | The Guardian

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