Russian lawyer says Snowden to start website job

Steve Gutterman
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Edward Snowden, displayed on television screens, asks a question to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised question-and-answer session, in Moscow, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Speaking in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin harshly criticized the West for trying to pull Ukraine into its orbit and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands. Putin also took a video question from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, whom Russia granted asylum last year. Asked by Snowden about Russia's surveillance programs, Putin said that Russian special services also tap on communications in their fight against terrorism, but don't do it on such a massive scale as the U.S. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has found a job working for a website in Russia, where he was granted asylum after fleeing the United States, a Russian lawyer helping him said on Thursday.

"Edward starts work in November," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, according to state-run news agency RIA.

"He will provide support for a large Russian site," he said, adding that he would not name the site "for security reasons".

Snowden, 30, a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed secret U.S. internet and phone surveillance programs, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia in June.

President Vladimir Putin rejected U.S. pleas to send Snowden home to face charges including espionage, and the temporary asylum he was granted in early August can be extended annually.

Snowden's location in Russia has not been disclosed and since July he has appeared only in a handful of photographs and video clips from a meeting this month with visiting former U.S. national security officials who support his cause.

Putin, a former KGB spy, said repeatedly that Russia would only shelter Snowden if he stopped harming the United States.

Kucherena cited that condition as one reason Snowden would not answer questions from foreign investigators looking into allegations that the United States spied on leaders of allies.

"Snowden lives in Russia under Russian laws, he cannot leave the country as he would lose his current status," the Interfax news agency quoted Kucherena as saying. "Also, under agreements, he cannot reveal secret information while he is in Russia."

Germany's parliament plans to hold a special session on reports the United States tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone and left-wing parties have demanded a public inquiry calling in witnesses including Snowden.

Despite Putin's warning, Russian state media have treated Snowden as a whistleblower and the decision to grant him asylum seemed to underscore Putin's accusations that Washington preaches to the world about freedoms it does not uphold at home.

Putin has dismissed the widespread assumption that Russian intelligence officers grilled Snowden for information after he arrived, and Kucherena has portrayed him as trying to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances.

He said earlier that he hoped Snowden would find a job because he was living on scant funds, mostly from donations.

A tabloid news site on Thursday published what it said was a photo of Snowden on a Moscow river cruise this summer, and the same site earlier published a photo of a man who looked like Snowden pushing a shopping cart in a supermarket parking lot.

Kucherna did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Andrew Roche)