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Russia grants citizenship to whistleblower Edward Snowden

Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned Snowden’s name as he read a decree granting Russian citizenship to 75 foreign-born individuals

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden | Twitter

September 27, 2022 4:54am

Updated: September 27, 2022 5:28pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Russian citizenship to former U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday.

Nine years ago, Snowden, 39, exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). After leaking secret files from the agency, Snowden fled from the U.S. and was given asylum in Russia.

In 2020, Russia granted Snowden permanent residency rights, making it easier for him to obtain Russian citizenship.

U.S. authorities have been wanting Russia to return Snowden so he can face a criminal trial on espionage charges. He faces up to 30 years in prison in the U.S.

On Monday, Putin read Snowden’s name as he read a decree granting Russian citizenship to 75 foreign-born individuals.

After the announcement, Snowden tweeted that he wanted to remain with his family and asked for privacy.

"After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS," Snowden wrote.

"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."

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded to the announcement by saying that he was unaware of any changes to Snowden’s status as an American citizen.

"I am familiar with the fact that he has in some ways denounced his American citizenship. I don't know that he's renounced it," Price said in a press briefing.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the Russian state news agency RIA that the whistleblower’s American wife, Lindsay Mills, will also be applying for Russian citizenship.