The United States has not made any formal request to Russia for the deportation of Edward Snowden as of yet, according to Edward Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena.
Kucherena has represented the infamous whistleblower since he initially sought asylum in Russia in June 2013. Speaking to journalists, Kucherena said that Snowden currently faces no criminal charges and Russia has not received any request for his extradition.
Edward Snowden is wanted by the United States for the copying and leaking of classified information regarding massive surveillance undertaken by the United States government across the world.
Working as a contractor of the National Security Agency in 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents to journalists without prior permission.
After escaping from the US to China, Snowden flew to Moscow, where he was granted one year’s temporal asylum. The asylum was later extended to three years, where he currently resides.
Kucherena has commented that the US has not made an extradition request to Russia for Edward Snowden. Currently, there is no extradition pact between Moscow and Washington, and there is also no formal application for the deportation of Edward Snowden that has been publicized.
The US Department of State didn’t comment on whether a formal application has been made, but the information in public domain provides significant evidence that a request has been made to Moscow to deport Snowden or otherwise offer facilitation of his return to United States soil.
It is believed that Washington communicated to Russia Edward Snowden’s “offenses” in writing. Caitlin Hayden, who served as spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council when the asylum seeker fled to Russia, said in 2013 that even though the US has no extradition treaty with Russia, Edward Snowden ought to be expelled due to the charges he’s facing. Hayden added that they were urging the Kremlin administration to promptly “expel Mr. Snowden” and enhance the two countries’ cooperation in law enforcement.
Michael McFaul, the United States ambassador to Russia, posted on Twitter at the time saying that Washington did not request for Mr. Snowden’s extradition, but just his return to Us.
According to McFaul, the recent remarks by Kucherena are largely “legalese,” adding that Washington “obviously…requested for Snowden’s return long ago.”
Edward Snowden has elicited unprecedented controversy and has been variously labelled as a patriot, a hero, and a groundbreaking whistleblower in some quarters, while others consider him a dissident and a traitor.
The whistleblower was awarded the 2016 Ossietzky Prize by the PEN Center – a global human rights organization – for his efforts to defend freedom of expression.
Kucherena had previously termed the accusations facing Edward Snowden as political and a gross violation of his fundamental freedoms and rights.
The lawyer further added that there’s no written extradition request or details regarding the charges his client is facing or the measures to be applied on him if extradited.
However, the Justice Ministry of Russia intimated that it got a letter from Eric Holder, then United States Attorney General, regarding some aspects of Washington’s position on the whistleblower.
The said letter was meant to assure the Russian authorities that Edward Snowden would be tried fairly in the US, he won’t be tortured, and that he won’t be subjected to the death penalty.
On the one hand, the United States maintains that Edward Snowden faces felony charges for leaking classified information and that he should be transferred to the US to face the due process.
On the other hand, Kremlin appears to consider the leaking of documents pertaining mass US government surveillance activities as a whistleblower’s rightful act, rather than a felonious act as alleged by Washington.
It is currently rumored that the Kremlin is debating whether or not to extradite Snowden to enhance relations with Washington, though the rumors have yet to be confirmed.