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  • Edward Snowden speaks via video link during a conference at University of Buenos Aires Law School, Argentina, Nov. 14, 2016.

    Edward Snowden speaks via video link during a conference at University of Buenos Aires Law School, Argentina, Nov. 14, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

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Snowden fled to Russia in 2013 after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations.

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been allowed to remain in Russia for another three years and will next year qualify to apply for Russian citizenship, his Russian lawyer was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Russian authorities said earlier on Wednesday they had extended a residency permit for Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations.

That permit is now valid until 2020, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russia's RIA news agency.

“In effect, he now has all grounds to receive citizenship in the future, over the course of a certain period, since under the law we have a period of residence on Russia soil of not less than 5 years (to receive Russian citizenship)," the agency quoted Kucherena as saying.

"Now he has already been living on Russian territory for nearly four years, he does not violate the law, there are no complaints about him. That's one of the reasons his residency permit was extended,” Kucherena said. 

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