NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden received another three years asylum in Russia Thursday, extending the temporary asylum he was granted last summer after he was stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Snowden faces charges stateside for leaking classified National Security Agency materials that revealed the existence of several massive surveillance programs, revelations that led to a federal judge ruling the NSA’s phone data gathering operation unconstitutional.
However, Snowden has also been accused of possibly exchanging U.S. intelligence for Russian protection, allegations that became much sharper after Russia annexed Crimea and raised the geopolitical temperature.
The move comes on the same day that Russia imposed sanctions on western imports, part of its grander standoff with the United States. Granting Snowden asylum both functions as a middle finger to U.S. interests and allows Putin, who is rapidly consolidating state control over Russian media, to troll the U.S. as being a surveillance state.[theguardian]