Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by the United States for leaking extensive secrets of its electronic surveillance programs, has been given a three-year residence permit by Russia, his Russian lawyer told reporters on Thursday.

The announcement comes at a time when Russia's relations with the West are at Cold War-era lows over Russia's actions in Ukraine. Russia responded to Western sanctions by banning certain food imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway on Thursday.

"The decision on the application has been taken and therefore, with effect from Aug. 1, 2014, Edward Snowden has received a three-year residential permit," Anatoly Kucherena said. "In the future, Edward himself will take a decision on whether to stay on (in Russia) on and get Russian citizenship or leave for the United States."

Source : Reuters

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