NSA contractor Snowden expects renewal of asylum status

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 near future.’

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 US 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 espionage.’ 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.
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