Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents on U.S. surveillance programs, will be allowed to stay in Russia for three more years, his lawyers announced Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Snowden has lived in Russia since last summer, when he was granted temporary political asylum. Before his temporary stay was approved, Snowden stayed for weeks in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. His residency has aggravated U.S.-Russia relations, as Snowden faces espionage charges in the U.S. that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
The news of Snowden’s extended stay came on the heels of Russia announcing it had banned a handful of American food imports, in protest of U.S. sanctions against Russia for the country’s aggression in Ukraine.
“I don’t think there’s ever been any question that I’d like to go home,” Snowden told NBC News’ Brian Williams in May. “Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That’s a debate for the public and the government to decide. But, if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home.”