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Snowden asks for extension on Russian asylum

NSA leaker Edward Snowden's asylum in Russia runs out on July 31, leaving him without a home if it is not extended.

Edward Snowden Laura Poitras/The Guardian/Screenshot by CNET

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who took nearly 2 million intelligence files from the US to reveal espionage tactics used by the government, has asked Russia for an extension on his asylum.

Speaking to the Russian Times on Wednesday, Snowden attorney Anatoly Kucherena said that he has filed, on Snowden's behalf, a request for an extension of his asylum in Russia. The attorney didn't say whether he asked for a simple one-year extension or something else, such as citizenship status.

After Snowden's leaks were revealed last year, he went on the run, attempting to make his way to Cuba and find safe ground from US law enforcement agencies seeking his extradition to the US and charges. Upon landing in a Russian airport last June, Snowden discovered that the US had voided his passport, leaving him in a holding area at the airport until he could find a new solution. On August 1, Russia finally allowed him into its country on a one-year asylum.

Snowden's asylum runs out on July 31. In the event the government does not extend the asylum, Snowden would be forced to leave Russia and find a new country to sidestep the US. Several countries in South America that have no extradition treaties with the US have offered Snowden asylum. With no passport, however, he can't make the trek to those countries.

Russia offering safe haven to Snowden has been met with concern in the US, where some believe that the country is housing a criminal. The Russian government, however, noted that Snowden has committed no crimes between its borders, leaving it with no reason but to offer him asylum. The government hasn't yet commented on whether his extension will be granted.

Snowden's revelations have proven damaging to the public perception of the US and its espionage techniques. According to documents revealed by Snowden, the government has done everything from collect nearly all data transmitted over networks to information on international government officials. The revelations have hurt US relations with certain countries, including Germany, and have caused the US to speak out publicly about its techniques and attempt to clarify claims.