It has been reported that Russia is considering sending Edward Snowden back to the United States as a “gift” to U.S. President Donald Trump, but Snowden’s lawyer here on Saturday denied those reports, calling them “speculations.”
“Those are certain speculations, which come from the so-called sources of the U.S. intelligence services,” Kucherena said, adding Snowden has a residency permit in Russia and observes all Russian laws.
He made it clear that Russia is not trading people, saying “At no level — be it economic or political — the topic of Snowden could be a subject of trade.”
The first report came from NBC News, which on Friday stated that U.S. intelligence sources have obtained information that says Russia may hand Snowden over in order to win favor with the new U.S. president.
Trump in the past has described Snowden as a “total traitor” and a “spy” who should be executed.
The U.S. whistleblower quickly responded to the NBC report by tweeting that the reported extradition plan vindicates his claim that he is not a spy for Russia because “no country trades away spies.”
Snowden’s lawyer in the United States, Ben Wizner, also told NBC News that they are unaware of any such plans.
“Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern,” Wizner said.
Snowden, a computer professional who was working as a contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, fled to Russia in 2013 after revealing explosive details of U.S. domestic surveillance programs to the press. He has been wanted by Washington on charges of espionage.
Russian authorities initially granted him asylum and last month extended his residency permit until 2020. Enditem