American whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted a three-year residence permit from Russia. The move comes a week after his initial one-year residency permit expired.
Former US intelligence contractor Snowden received a three-year residence permit from Russia, his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told reporters Thursday at a press conference.
"The decision on the application has been taken and therefore starting Aug. 1 2014 Edward Snowden has received a three-year residential permit," Kucherena said. The permit allows Snowden to travel freely in and out of Russia and can be renewed for another three years, according to Kucherena.
The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor received temporary asylum status in Russia after arriving in Moscow in June 2013. Snowden became stranded in the Russian capital last year on his way from Hong Kong to Cuba.
Snowden attempted to reach Cuba after disclosing a massive telecommunications and email surveillance program run by his former employer, the NSA, last year.
The United States subsequently revoked his passport and charged him with espionage and theft of government property.
While Russia's decision to extend Snowden's residency does not come as a surprise, it is likely to further complicate ties between the US and Moscow. Earlier on Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced an import ban on most foods from the US, European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway.
hc/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)