Snowden settles into life in Russia

Snowden is able to travel around the country freely without being recognised, according to the former National Security Agency contractor's Russian lawyer.

"We believe the danger remains quite high and, as I see it, it is impossible at the moment to reveal where he's living or to talk openly about it," said Anatoly Kucherena in an interview with the Kremlin-funded television station Russia Today, excerpts of which were released this week.

Kucherena said Snowden has security protection, but was evasive on whether this was provided by the Russian state, noting that there were many private security firms in Russia.

Snowden is wanted by the US for leaking details of government surveillance programmes to the Guardian. He has not been seen in public since he landed in Moscow on a flight from Hong Kong in June.

He spent several weeks in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, before he was granted asylum and left the airport on August 1.

A meeting Snowden held with human rights activists during his time at the airport and a grainy photograph of him getting into a car when leaving Sheremetyevo are the only traces left by the fugitive whistle-blower.

Western diplomats and Russian government sources say they have no idea where he is staying or whether he has the protection of the Russian state or security services.

President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy, this month referred to Snowden as "a strange guy" and said life in Russia would not be easy for him.

"In effect, he condemned himself to a rather difficult life," said Putin. "I do not have the faintest idea about what he will do next."

According to Kucherena, despite the secrecy, Snowden has been moving unimpeded around Russia. "He does travel, because he is interested in our history," said the lawyer, adding that nobody had yet recognised Snowden on his travels.


Kucherena admitted it was unlikely the US government would attempt an audacious operation on Russian soil to capture Snowden, but said he had to remain vigilant.

"I don't think that is going to happen but we saw American special forces intervening in other countries. Also, our citizens get detained abroad and transferred to US territory."

He said that Snowden had "the same rights and responsibilities as any Russian citizen" and had received a large number of job offers, as well as messages from Russians offering to help. One of the more unusual suggestions came from a 50-year-old woman, who inquired whether it might be possible to adopt Snowden. – © Guardian News & Media 2013

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