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Russian Lawyer Takes on Snowden

Edward Joseph Snowden is wanted for divulging the National Security Agency's policies and methods for domestic spying, and meanwhile has absconded to avoid retribution for what he thinks was doing the right thing: forcing transparency on the U.S. government. Lately, he's been hanging out in Russia, and has even secured a lawyer for himself, Mr. Kucherena, after emailing him and then meeting him in an airport lounge on July 12. Though initially uncertain Snowden's email was anything other than a prank, and also requiring a translator to relay it into Russian, Kucherena finally agreed to take on Snowden, and that pro bono.

"He has this struggle inside himself," says Kucherena. "He is absolutely convinced that he did the right thing to tell the America people what was going on." He has advised Snowden to drop his more than 20 appeals for political asylum to other countries, saying they would have no legal standing while he was on Russian soil. He drew out a review that ended up on the desk of President Vladimir Putin.

Despite being somewhat under the thumb of Russian politics himself, he claims that this case "is in the realm of big politics. I am a lawyer. I don't want to be involved in big politics," yet claims, nevertheless, that Snowden's appeal for asylum should prevail anyway, despite the Attorney General Eric Holder denying that anything like torture or the death penalty was planned for Snowden.

Though Kucherena is called a "staunch loyalist," who wins his cases by avoiding cases that authorities would dispute, he claims to be politically neutral, or at least to not have ties with the security service of his state. Whether he can win Snowden asylum may ultimately end up being more political than he cares to admit.


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