NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Granted Asylum in Russia

Posted at 8:28 AM, Aug 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-01 08:28:35-04

snowden(CNN) — NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s application for political asylum has been approved and he has left a Moscow airport, Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told CNN on Thursday. Snowden has legal status in Russia for one year, Kucherena said, but the attorney would not disclose Snowden’s location, citing security reasons.

[Original story published at 3:53 a.m. ET]

Edward Snowden is in good health in Russia and his lawyer there is amenable to hammering out an ending that would satisfy all. This, according to his father’s lawyer, Bruce Fein, who appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360” on Wednesday night.

He relayed the conversation he had with Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

“There may be a time, where it would be constructive to try and meet and see whether there can’t be common ground that everyone agrees would advance the interest, the United States, Mr. Snowden, Lon, his father, and the interest of Russia in trying to resolve this in a way that honors due process and the highest principles of fairness and civilization,” Fein said.

Kucherena told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that he’ll start working on Lon Snowden’s visa application.

“I telephoned him (Edward Snowden) today. We agreed that I would prepare an invitation for his father to visit Russia. I hope that the visa formalities will not be long,” Kucherena said Wednesday.

Snowden has said he is afraid he would not get a fair trial if he came back to the United States.

Snowden leaks again

On Wednesday, Snowden once again made himself a thorn in the side of the National Security Agency.

The British daily, The Guardian, which broke news of the NSA programs on the surveillance of phone and Internet metadata, after Snowden leaked them, revealed yet another NSA data collecting scheme.

XKeyscore allows intelligence agents to see anything you’ve ever done on the Internet. With ease, they can observe your browsing history, searches, e-mails, chats and more. And it does not require a search warrant.

After the article was published, Snowden came forward as the source.

FBI and Snowden’s father

Snowden’s father told Anderson Cooper that the FBI had wanted to fly him to Moscow to encourage the National Security Agency leaker to come home to the United States.

But Lon Snowden said he backed out because it was not clear he would be able to speak to his son.

When he asked FBI agents if they would be able to set up communications, they hesitated, he said. It made him suspicious.

“I’m not going to get on a flight and go to Moscow and sit on a tarmac to be an emotional tool for you to use against him. I want to first be able to speak to my son,” he told them.

Lon Snowden has said that he wants his son to stay in Russia until he is confident he can get a fair trial in the United States.

“I am not confident at all,” he said.

The multiple guilty verdicts handed to leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning increased his unease, although he says his son’s case is “completely different.”

“I think my son has exercised discretion in the information that he has shared,” he said.

By the numbers

Russian citizens generally support the NSA leaker.

An opinion survey reported by RIA Novosit shows 51% of Russians back Edward Snowden’s actions. The remainder either disapprove or haven’t made up their minds yet.

On the question of asylum, 43% are generally in favor of the idea, according to the Levada Center poll.

Snowden patriotic?

Edward Snowden, a former employee of a government contractor, leaked to the media that the NSA had secretly collected and stored millions of phone records from accounts in the United States. It also collected information from U.S. companies on the Internet activity of overseas residents, Snowden said.

Lawmakers in Washington have built a criminal case against him.

Fein has objected to the government’s intent to prosecute Snowden.

“The majority of the American people now have voiced grave concerns about the scope of that program. And it seems somewhat odd to be prosecuting somebody for disclosing government wrongdoing.”

He said that Snowden had the courage to spark a conversation that President Barack Obama has called “urgent.”