“The first step is to get Snowden to Moscow,” Soldatov explained in early 2014. “The next step is to have him locked for 40 days [to decide what to do]. … The next step is to provide him asylum … then to say, ‘Someone is looking for you, you are in danger.’ … And then you have the guy in a controlled environment, and then you can work with him.”
‘Nobody has seen him’
In 2014, Snowden began speaking directly to audiences over video chat (in addition to occasional interviews). In November 2015, he told a crowd in Washington, D.C.: “People say I live in Russia, but that’s actually a little bit of a misunderstanding. I live on the internet. And that’s where I spend all of my time.”
The following month, he proclaimed: “I’m not in Russia. I’m not on the Internet. I’m in Utah.”
‘He is in a very strange situation’
‘He still lives and works in Russia’
“Edward Snowden will start working at a big Russian company on Friday, Nov. 1,” Kucherena said on Oct. 31, 2013. “His job will be to support and develop a major Russian website.”
In February 2015, Kucherena told reporters that Snowden “has long worked for a Russian company. He is a unique specialist, the company won’t let him go.” The lawyer noted that Snowden’s salary allowed him to live a comfortable life.
“Today he has now — if one can put it like this — settled in,” Kucherena said on June 23, 2015, the two-year anniversary of Snowden’s arrival in Moscow. “He is working in an IT company. We are not revealing this information, and it is understandable on what grounds. So today, I thank God, everything is fine. He is working. He is satisfied by the work he is doing.”
Asked in April 2017 if the administration of President Trump had reached out to Snowden, Kucherena told Tass that “no one tried to contact him. … Nothing has changed actually, he still lives and works in Russia.”
Snowden’s primary American lawyer, Ben Wizner, has told journalists that Snowden does not have a job in Russia (besides paid speaking appearances via video chat). Wizner did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the topic, including an email on Saturday morning.
‘He could get Russian citizenship’
Ever since Snowden publicly asked the country for asylum on July 12, 2013, Kucherena has signaled that Snowden could receive Russian citizenship
“In line with the law, he may become a citizen of Russia, but this can happen in some time,” Kucherena said after attending the restricted event. “Suppose that he could enjoy … a kind of residence permit, then he could get Russian citizenship in five years.”
The Kremlin-linked lawyer has reiterated over the years that Snowden may be eligible for citizenship, most recently after Russia renewed Snowden’s residence permit in early 2017.
“Essentially, he now has every reason to apply for [Russian] citizenship in the future, in a while, as the law [states] that one needs to spend no less than 5 years on the territory of Russia [to be granted citizenship],” Kucherena said in January, as reported by RT.
“He has now lived in Russia for almost four years, has not violated any laws, and there are no [legal] claims against him — this is one of the reasons his residence permit was extended.”
Soldatov, the Russian investigative journalist, noted that Snowden hasn’t been used directly by Russian propaganda through appearances on RT or Sputnik.
Nevertheless, Soldatov concluded, the former NSA contractor’s life in Russia is largely dictated by the FSB, Russia’s state security organization.
“He’s trapped in this situation,” Soldatov said. “And given the fact that [he] lives surrounded by these people with almost no option to get out, well, it’s tough.”
Credits: Yahoo News