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Russia likely to prolong asylum for fugitive Snowden

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Accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during an hearing on ''mass surveillance'' at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/VINCENT KESSLER
Accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during an hearing on ''mass surveillance'' at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/VINCENT KESSLER

(Reuters) - Russia will most probably extend former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's temporary asylum on the grounds that "his life is endangered", an official close to the country's Federal Migration Service (FMS) was quoted as saying on Friday.

Snowden fled to Russia after leaking details of secret state surveillance programs and Moscow granted him a year-long asylum on Aug. 1, 2013, upsetting Washington which wants to try the American at home on charges including espionage.

The presence of Snowden in Russia has strained relations between Moscow and Washington, also at odds over the crises in Syria and Ukraine as well as human rights, security and trade issues.

"I see no problem in prolonging the temporary asylum. The circumstances have not changed. As before, Snowden's life is endangered so the FMS has grounds to extend his status," Vladimir Volokh, head of an advisory body to the migration authorities, told the Interfax news agency.

Russia's Federal Migration service refused to comment and Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was not available for comment, his assistant said.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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