Putin confers Russian citizenship on US whistleblower Snowden – Nexus News
President Vladimir Putin has conferred Russian citizenship to former US security contractor Edward Snowden, according to an act signed by the Russian leader.
Snowden is one of 75 foreign nationals conferred Russian citizenship by the decree published on an official government website on Monday.
The 39-year-old, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, has been living in Russia since 2013 to avert prosecution in the United States after revealing classified documents detailing government surveillance programmes.
The documents unveiled vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the National Security Agency.
He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and stated at the time that he intends to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his US citizenship.
That year a US appeals court found the programme Snowden had revealed was illegal and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS. After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them—and for us all,” Snowden tweeted on Monday.
US authorities have for years wanted Snowden to come back to the US to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price disclosed on Monday that the US is not aware of any change in Edward Snowden’s American citizenship status.
“Our position has not changed. Mr Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would,” he said.
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“The only thing that has changed is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in a reckless war in Ukraine.”
The decision comes at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are at historic lows over the chaos in Ukraine.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that the former contractor’s wife Lindsay Mills, an American who has been living with him in Russia, will also be applying for a Russian passport.
The couple had a child in December 2020, who already has a Russian passport having been born in the country.
Snowden, who has kept a low profile in Russia and occasionally condemned the Russian government policies on social media, said in 2019 that he was ready to return to the US if he is guaranteed a fair trial.
Putin, a former Russian spy chief, said in 2017 that Snowden was wrong to reveal US secrets but was not a traitor.
Putin last week declared a mobilization of Russian men to contribute to the army’s fight in Ukraine and Kucherena stated that Snowden would not be called up to serve given he had no prior experience in the Russian army.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile informed news agencies that Snowden was granted Russian citizenship as a result of his own request.