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NSA whistleblower's attorney dismisses Snowden-Bout spy swap as rumors

March 20, 15:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The attorney for ex-NSA agent Edward Snowden reiterated that his residence permit in Russia was valid until 2020
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Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

© AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong

MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. Russian lawyer of former US secret service employee Edward Snowden has dismissed as groundless rumors the speculations his client may be exchanged for Russia’s Viktor Bout, who is serving a long prison term in the United States.

"Snowden does not regard himself guilty," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said. "There is nothing for which he may want himself to be excused by anybody. All what he did was done for the good of all. Speculations about some pardon or handover are groundless rumors being fueled by the CIA and the NSA: ‘We have Bout who can be exchanged.’ All this is very far-fetched."

Kucherena reiterated that Snowden’s residence permit in Russia was valid till 2020.

"He lives in our country, he works in our country, and he does not violate any laws, so any speculations over the possibility Moscow might conduct negotiations with somebody are impermissible," Kucherena said.

In 2013, Edward Snowden, an analyst working for the National Security Agency, disclosed classified information about electronic spying methods used by US secret services, including the eavesdropping on foreign leaders. While trying to escape from American persecution, Snowden asked more than 20 countries, including Russia, for an asylum. On August 1, 2014 he was granted a Russian residence permit and has been living in Russia ever since.

In the US Snowden faces spying charges on two counts. The maximum punishment under either charge is 10 years in jail. US officials have said more than once they regarded Snowden as a traitor and had no intention of pardoning him, because he had caused great harm to national security.

Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand’s capital Bangkok in 2008 under a warrant issued by a local court following a request from Washington. He was accused of involvement in a plot to illegally deliver weapons to the organization calling itself Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, regarded as terrorist in the United States. In 2010 Bout was extradited to the US. In April 2012 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a $15-million fine.

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