MOSCOW — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has a place to live in Russia after being granted temporary asylum, but he still hasn't decided what he wants to do next, his lawyer said Friday. The big question may be how much choice he actually has.
Russia granted a year of asylum to Snowden on Thursday, allowing him to quietly slip out of the Moscow airport where he had been holed up for almost six weeks as he evades charges of espionage in the United States. Authorities have suggested he will have wide freedom to work, but Kremlin watchers believe his moves are likely being closely controlled by Russian intelligence.
Snowden "is in a safe place," but the location will remain secret out of concern for his security, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russian news agencies.
The move to grant Snowden asylum infuriated the Obama administration, which said it was "extremely disappointed" and warned that the decision could derail a summit between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The asylum decision gives Russia cover to depict itself as a defender of human rights, pointing a finger to deflect criticism of its own poor record on rights including free speech. But the secrecy that surrounded Snowden's time at the Moscow airport since he arrived from Hong Kong and his unwillingness to talk to the news media indicates he is being controlled by Russian intelligence, said Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist who co-wrote a book on the Russian intelligence services.
"Does he have independent sources of information and communication? My impression is that he has none," Soldatov said.