Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed secret details of U.S. electronic
surveillance programs, has received a three-year residence permit in Russia and can travel freely abroad, his lawyer said Thursday in Moscow.
Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said the 31-year-old analyst has not asked for political asylum, but noted that he could apply for Russian citizenship in five years, Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency reports.
"He will be able to travel freely within the country and go abroad," Kucherena told reporters "He'll be able to stay abroad for not longer than three months."
Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia year ago, but that permit expired Aug. 1.
He initially fled to Hong Kong and was en route to Cuba when he got stuck at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after the United States revoked his U.S. passport. Snowden remained in the airport transit area until he was granted temporary asylum.
As for Snowden's life in Russia, Kucherena said he is "much happier than being unfairly tried in the U.S."
Since receiving the temporary asylum, his whereabouts have not been made public. He is reported to be working at a website in Russia.
The Snowden case has been a significant contributor to the tensions between Russia and the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected U.S. pleas to send Snowden home to face charges including espionage. Putin, a former KGB spy, said repeatedly that Russia would only shelter Snowden if he stopped harming the United States.
"I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home," Snowden told NBC News 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."
Contributing: Associated Press