Russia gives Edward Snowden permanent residency

***** Former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden is displayed on a screen as he speaks during a video conference in Berlin to present his book "Permanent Record" on Sept. 17, 2019. Snowden has obtained permanent residency in Russia. (Jorg Carstensen/dpa/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
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By Henry Meyer Bloomberg News (TNS)

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed top-secret U.S. spying programs, has obtained permanent residency in Russia, his lawyer said.

Snowden, 37, received notification Thursday his application to remain in the country indefinitely and unconditionally has been approved, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said by phone.

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted asylum to the American whistleblower in 2013, sparking a major diplomatic confrontation with the administration of President Barack Obama. The following year, he was awarded temporary residency.

Snowden, who is living in or near Moscow, has defended his decision to reveal highly classified NSA surveillance programs, including the hacking of private internet systems and widespread spying on allies and adversaries of the U.S.

President Donald Trump in August ignited speculation about a possible pardon for Snowden, saying in an interview with The New York Post that he was looking into letting him return to the U.S. without going to prison. Trump said many people believed that the intelligence leaker had not been treated fairly. Attorney General William Barr later said he would be “vehemently opposed” to any attempt to pardon Snowden.

Last month, a federal judge in Virginia ordered Snowden to relinquish $4.2 million in profits from his tell-all memoir about his work in U.S. intelligence because he did not submit the manuscript for government review before publishing it.

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