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As Deadline Nears, Snowden Seeks To Extend His Stay In Russia

Edward Snowden remains a fugitive from U.S. authorities over leaking secret documents about its surveillance programs. Now he's asking Russia to extend the one-year term of asylum the country granted the former NSA contract worker last summer.

Snowden's asylum, which was granted last August, is set to expire at the end of this month. His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, says they've filed papers for an extension.

"We have gone through the course of receiving temporary asylum. On July 31, this term ends. We have submitted documents on the extension of his stay in Russia," Kucherena said, according to state-run news agency Ria Novosti. We won't say yet in what status we would like to receive the extension because that decision is up to the Federal [Migration] Service."

Last December, Snowden said he wanted to gain "permanent political asylum" to give him the freedom he needs to discuss U.S. surveillance activities more openly. And in March, he said his attempts to gain asylum in European Union member nations had been frustrated by the U.S.

When Russia granted Snowden asylum after he spent weeks in a legal limbo at Moscow's international airport, the White House said it was "extremely disappointed" in the decision, saying that Snowden "is not a whistleblower."

Documents provided to the media by Snowden exposed a broad U.S. surveillance program. And the records were cited today by reporter Glenn Greenwald, in a story that asserts the National Security Agency and FBI "monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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