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Russia is extending the residency permit of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked evidence of the NSA's bulk data collection program.
The Russian government announced the extension via social media, NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow:
"Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, posted on her Facebook page late Tuesday night.
"She ridiculed former deputy CIA chief Michael Morell for suggesting that returning Snowden to the US would be Russia's perfect gift to President-elect Donald Trump.
" 'The funniest thing,' Zakharova said, 'is that Morell doesn't know that Snowden's residence permit was just extended by a couple of years.' "
Snowden, who is under indictment in the U.S., is living in Russia under a grant of asylum, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports. He has been in Moscow since 2013.
This week, President Obama commuted the sentence of another famous leaker of state secrets: Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst who released hundreds of thousands of U.S. documents to Wikileaks. The president notably did not grant a pardon to Snowden, as The Associated Press reports:
"Snowden hasn't formally applied for clemency, though his supporters have called for it. Yet the White House drew a distinction between the unapologetic Snowden and Manning. Manning, officials noted, has expressed remorse and served several years already for her crime."
Lucian notes that last month, a report by the House of Representatives was declassified and made available to the public. It concluded that Snowden has had contact with Russia's intelligence surveys.
"Snowden rejected the report as riddled with 'obvious falsehoods,' " Lucian reports.
Several human rights groups have asked Obama to pardon Snowden, and report they have delivered a petition signed by 1.1 million people calling for such a pardon. They note that Snowden's revelations exposed violations of the law, triggering reform.