Experts analyze how Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia may affect upcoming U.S.-Russia initiatives on cybersecurity.
Snowden has asylum and a job offer from the Russian Facebook. Photo: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year, according to lawyer Anatoly Kucherena who agreed to defend the interests of Snowden in Russia.
"I have given him the certificate granting him temporary asylum in Russia for one year," Kucherena told Interfax on Thursday.
The document allows Snowden to move within Russian freely. Snowden "will choose the place of residence himself - he can either live in a hotel or rent an apartment," Kucherena said.
"The issues of security, the issues of residence - all of this is up to him. He will deal with this himself. I will consult him as his lawyer. As of today, he has to go through a certain rehabilitation course," Kucherena said.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks said on Twitter that Snowden left Sheremetyevo Airport in the company of WikiLeaks legal advisor Sarah Harrison.
"Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year and has now left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport under the care of WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison," Interfax reported, citing WikiLeaks. "We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle, now the war."
Snowden fled to Hong Kong in May, 2013 and then released classified information regarding the U.S. special services' online surveillance activities. Shortly after, Snowden went to Moscow and has been in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23. The United States revoked Snowden's passport and is seeking his extradition.
Pavel Durov, the founder of the largest social network in Russia (VKontakte), has already invited Snowden to St. Petersburg for work.
"Today, Edward Snowden, who exposed the crimes of the American secret services against the citizens of the world, received temporary asylum in Russia. During such moments, you feel pride for your country and regret for the policy of the U.S. — a country that betrayed the principles it was once built upon," Interfax reported. Durov wrote on his personal page in VKontakte.
"We invite Edward to St. Petersburg, and we will be happy if he decides to join our star company of programmers at VKontakte. After all, no European company is more popular than VK. I think Edward will be interested in dealing with security issues, to protect the private data of millions of our users," wrote Durov.
Meanwhile, Russian experts are trying to figure out how the Snowden Affair may affect U.S.-Russia collaboration in cyberspace that was discussed by representatives of a U.S.-Russia presidential commission and by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, President Barack Obama, back in June.
“To tell the truth, I regard the prospects of U.S.-Russia collaboration in the field [of cyberspace] with skepticism,” Deputy Director at the Coordination Center for Top Level Domain (TLD) RU Andrew Romanov told Russia Direct.
“I think that there will not be any breakthrough. So, the Snowden case is hardly likely to have any significant effect on the agreements in this field,” he added. “And the rhetoric of the authorities of the U.S. and Russia will be calibrated to meet the domestic [political] demand.”
The growing significance of U.S.-Russia collaboration in cyberspace is crucial, according to Oleg Demidov, Project Coordinator, International Information Security and Global Internet Governance at The Russian Center for Policy Studies (PIR Center). And this partnership should not fall prey to a political and diplomatic scandal like the Snowden Affair, he said in an interview to Russia Direct.
“Despite the stunning effect produced by former NSA contractor and CIA agent Edward Snowden, the U.S. and Russia have to maintain their collaboration in cyberspace in defiance of the large baggage of mutual criticism and accusations,” he said.
Author's note: This article contains material published by Interfax.