A lawyer for Edward Snowden said the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor has applied to extend his stay in Russia, the Associated Press reported.
Snowden applied to Russian authorities “a long time ago,” since his one-year permit expires at the end of July, according to the lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena.
Snowden received asylum in Russia last year after giving journalists documents that revealed the NSA’s extensive surveillance activities. His whereabouts in the country are unknown. Snowden has been charged by U.S. authorities with espionage and theft of government property.
Snowden told NBC News in May that he would like to return to the U.S., but he’s worried about being unfairly convicted of espionage. He added that he’s “surprised” to find himself living in Russia.
“I never intended to end up in Russia,” Snowden told NBC’s Brian Williams.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last year he was not protecting Snowden, but had no legal basis to extradite him.
Snowden has been hailed by civil libertarians as a hero, and has received numerous international awards. But some U.S. lawmakers and government officials have said his disclosures compromised national security and put lives at risk.