Edward Snowden decided to tell the world about what he perceives to be unlawful surveillance activities by the US special services one year ago, says lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.
“About a year ago, he came to the conclusion that he should open the world’s eyes so that people would understand that they are listened to and read about,” Kucherena said with reference to Snowden.
Meeting with journalists on Wednesday, Kucherena said Snowden behaved appropriately.
“It seemed to me he was mentally stable. He said he did not have any diseases. I didn’t see anything amiss, even when we met face-to-face,” Kucherena said.
The Russian side has no legal ground to extradite ex-CIA officer to the United States, Kucherena added.
“Russia cannot extradite him. There is no reason to give him to the United States,” Kucherena told journalists in Moscow.
He said that United States should not regard Russia’s granting of asylum to former CIA officer Edward Snowden as an unfriendly move.
“I do not think that our humane attitude towards a U.S. citizen will be destructive or damaging to our relations,” he added.
There is no agreement between Russian and the United States on legal assistance, Kucherena said. “Has he committed a crime here? How can we extradite him?”
The lawyer does not anticipate any problems with granting of the political asylum to Snowden.
“I think the Russian migration authorities will give an affirmative answer. There should be no problems because the grounds indicated in his application are rather convincing. America should not regard our humane act as an unfriendly step,” the lawyer stressed.
Snowden has also promised not to work to the detriment of the United States’ national interests, according to Kucherena. He did not rule out Snowden’s application for Russian citizenship, and also said the Kremlin is not likely to turn down such a request.
He quoted Snowden as saying that he is not planning to go anywhere outside of Russia. Snowden feels “cornered,” he said.
Kucherena said Snowden told him he did expect that he would be pursued but did not expect that it would be done so inadequately.
Snowden also acknowledged that, even if he is granted temporary asylum in Russia, he would have no passport enabling him to leave Russian territory, he said.
Kucherena also noted that Snowden currently does not qualify for the protection by the Russian state even if there is a theoretical threat to his life.
“The Refugee Status Law does not include state protection. He will have the same rights as any other person eligible under these regulations,” Kucherena said and added that, “theoretically, anything is possible”.