WASHINGTON, April 30 Former National Security
Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow last year
after revealing details of massive U.S. intelligence-gathering
programs, expects his asylum status in Russia to be renewed
before it expires this summer, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Snowden and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who worked
with Snowden to reveal NSA documents he took from his job, were
given the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, an award to promote
transparency and whistle-blowing, at a ceremony in Washington on
Wednesday. Snowden appeared on a video link-up from Russia and
Poitras appeared from Berlin.
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Snowden, said his temporary
asylum in Russia will expire at the end of June but that
"prospects are good" for it to be renewed.
"Obviously, he misses America and would like to be able to
come home," she said. "We just don't see that happening in the
Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized
documents. The leaked documents revealed massive programs run by
the NSA that gathered information on emails, phone calls and
Internet use by hundreds of millions of Americans. The U.S.
surveillance programs also had international reach, including
monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.
He was charged last year in the United States with theft of
government property, unauthorized communication of national
defense information and willful communication of classified
intelligence to an unauthorized person. Radack said the Justice
Department has not wavered on the charges.
"If the Justice Department would like to talk, we'd be glad
to," she said. "He's not going to come here to be prosecuted for
Snowden, who has appeared around the world in similar video
link-ups this year, told a crowd at the National Press Club
that more laws are needed to protect potential whistle-blowers
in the United States.
Asked what advice he had for them, he said, "Ideally, work
with Congress in advance to try to make sure that we have
reformed laws, better protection (for whistle-blowers) ... so
next time we have an American whistle-blower who has something
the public needs to know, they can go to their lawyer's office
instead of the airport.
"Right now I'm not sure that they have a real alternative.
But if they're going to do something, they better use encryption
and they better do it from an IP address that's not at their
In May 2013 Snowden fled Hawaii, where he had worked as a
contractor for the NSA, for Hong Kong, where he gave details of
U.S. surveillance programs to Poitras and reporter Glenn
Greenwald of the Guardian, who shared in a Pulitzer Prize for
his Snowden stories.
Snowden then flew to Russia and spent more than a month
living in a neutral transit zone in a Moscow airport before
being granted asylum over the protests of the Obama
(Writing and reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Jim Loney and