Moscow Allows Snowden Stay Three More Years

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given permission to stay in Russia for three more years.

Last year, Snowden blew the whistle on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance programs.

The former NSA contractor has not, however, been granted political asylum, a move that would allow him to stay in Russia permanently. The decision on political asylum will be made through a separate process.

"In the future, Edward himself will take a decision on whether to stay (in Russia) and get Russian citizenship or leave for the United States," Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted by the state news agency RIA Novosti.

The news comes amid rising tensions between Russia and other Western powers over the nation's role in the Ukrainian conflict.

President Vladimir Putin is retaliating against sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other Western nations with reprisals of his own.

Moscow is banning agricultural products, including all meat, fish, milk, fruits and vegetables for one year. The sanctions apply to European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Norway.

Russia's prime minister said that they're also considering banning Western airlines from flying in Russian airspace.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and the European Union are threatening retaliation.

"We hoped until the very last that our foreign colleagues would realize that sanctions are a dead end and that nobody needs them," the New York Times quoted Ukraine Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. "Things have turned out in such a way that we have to implement retaliatory measures."

The EU's policy-making body said the sanctions were "politically motivated."

"We underline that the European Union's restrictive measures are directly linked with the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine," the European Commission said in a statement Thursday.

"The European Union remains committed to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine. All should join in this effort," the statement read.

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