Alleged photo of Snowden on boat from tabloid.Life News
Soldatov said he believes Snowden’s moves are monitored by a number of federal bodies besides the FSB, including the Foreign Ministry and the foreign intelligence services.
Kucherena, Snowden’s effective spokesperson since he arrived in Russia and a prominent lawyer, has been criticized for representing the American while also sitting on the public council of the FSB, an advisory committee aimed at boosting the image of the security services with the public, Soldatov said.
Through a representative, Kucherena declined to be interviewed by Al Jazeera, but he has publicly maintained that Snowden is a free man.
Mikhail Barshchevsky, a Russian lawyer and journalist who recently interviewed Kucherena for a state-run newspaper, denied any conflict of interest and said the lawyer is “absolutely” free of government interference. He also repeated Kucherena’s line — that Snowden “is free to walk around and speak with whom he wants.”
“The only problem is that he doesn’t want to speak with anybody at the moment,” Barshchevsky added.
Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said the embassy had no knowledge of Snowden's whereabouts or the extent to which he is under the control of Russian authorities. McFaul emphasized that no U.S. consular official has had any contact with Snowden since his arrival in Moscow.
“As a government and an embassy, we have reached out to him and offered our consular services like we do to all American citizens,” the ambassador said. “We have no way of verifying his conditions here.”
A spokesperson for Putin declined to comment.
Such silence over Snowden’s stay has left room for much speculation, and also lack of interest — even prompting some suggestions that he could fall into oblivion like many past defectors. If he stays in Russia, anonymity might eventually mark a new beginning for the whistle-blower, though that is not likely in the immediate future.
“Whether he will start to live a normal life in Moscow — this is a big question,” said Felshtinsky. “And it’s probably not going to happen very soon.”