Originally posted at 12:44. Updated throughout the day.
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- Russia Not Obliged to Return Snowden – Russian Diplomat
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MOSCOW, August 2 (RIA Novosti) – Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking classified information on US surveillance programs and who was granted temporary asylum Thursday by Russia, has decided where he is going to live and is in a safe place with friends, a Russian lawyer who helped him with his asylum bid said Friday.
“Snowden is in a safe place. I didn’t suggest it to him, it was his decision,” said lawyer Anatoly Kucherena. “He will decide for himself how to live his life from now on. He has friends with him, including Americans with whom he made contact via his friends from the United States when he was still in the [airport] transit zone,” Kucherena told Dozhd TV.
The lawyer told journalists Thursday that Snowden’s whereabouts would not be disclosed in the interests of the former intelligence contractor’s safety, describing him as “one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.”
Snowden is wanted in the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. He spent more than a month in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23, and finally left the airport Thursday after receiving a year’s temporary asylum in Russia.
Washington has repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request and send him back to the United States to stand trial.
The human rights organization Amnesty International welcomed Russia's decision to grant Snowden temporary asylum as a "positive development" and called on the Russian authorities to respect Snowden’s rights.
“He should be allowed to travel freely, including outside of Russia, if he wishes,” Amnesty International said in a statement on its website Thursday.
Kucherena told Vesti FM radio on Friday that Snowden would like to travel around Russia, but that it was not safe for him to do so.
“The level of danger that exists for him makes it impossible for him to just go out and walk around Red Square or go fishing somewhere,” Kucherena said.
The lawyer denied a rumor that Snowden had been clubbing on his first night after leaving the airport, adding that the 30-year-old American was a very modest person.
Kucherena told Vesti FM that he was currently working on getting Russian visas for Snowden’s father and lawyer, and that he hoped they would come to Russia as soon as possible. He added that the US fugitive would decide what to do next together with them once they arrive.
“If threatening statements continue to come from the US presidential administration, of course he will worry about his safety,” the lawyer said.
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