Snowden's lawyer says assumes his Russian asylum will be extended

BERLIN Thu Jun 5, 2014 6:27am EDT

Accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during a hearing on ''mass surveillance'' at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during a hearing on ''mass surveillance'' at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A lawyer for former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden told German radio on Thursday that he expected his client's asylum in Russia to be extended beyond July.

"We assume that it will be extended," Wolfgang Kaleck, Snowden's lawyer in Germany, was quoted as saying by Germany's Inforadio.

He added that there was, however, no guarantee this would happen.

Russia granted Snowden a year's asylum in August 2013 despite the United States wanting Moscow to send him home to face criminal charges, including espionage, for disclosing in June secret U.S internet and telephone surveillance programs.

Last month Snowden said he was not under the control of Russia's government and had given Moscow no intelligence documents after nearly a year of asylum there.

Kaleck also called on the German parliamentary committee that wants to question Snowden as part of its inquiry into the mass surveillance of German citizens which he exposed, to request a hearing in Germany.

A hearing in Moscow would not be practicable, Inforadio reported Kaleck as saying.

Revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) spying activities have put strains on relations between Berlin and Washington.

Germany's top public prosecutor said on Wednesday he was launching an investigation into the bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone by U.S. intelligence in the light of revelations by Snowden.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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