According to a decree he signed on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted former US security contractor Edward Snowden Russian citizenship.
Following the ruling, 75 foreign nationals, including Snowden, were granted Russian citizenship. The regulation was made public on a website run by the government.
Since disclosing the National Security Agency (NSA) program that affected millions of Americans in 2013, Mr. Snowden, 39, has been living in exile in Russia. Mr. Snowden, accused of espionage in the US, has kept his silence in public.
When he was given permanent residency in Russia in 2020, he declared that he intended to apply for Russian citizenship without giving up his American citizenship.
Although Edward Snowden wishes to return to the US, doing so would subject him to espionage prosecution.
After leaking classified documents in 2013 that exposed extensive domestic and global monitoring operations carried out by the NSA, where Snowden worked, he fled the United States and was granted refuge in Russia.
He has been wanted by American authorities to return home for years so that he might stand trial for espionage there.
After the decision, Mr. Snowden stated that he felt vindicated.
Before Mr. Snowden disclosed evidence to the contrary, top US intelligence officials had publicly maintained that the NSA had never intentionally acquired data from private phone records.
After the information became public, officials claimed that the NSA’s surveillance program had been crucial in the fight against domestic terrorism, leading to the convictions of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh of San Diego for aiding al-Shabab militants in Somalia.
Edward Snowden, a computer expert, and former CIA systems administrator, made secret government documents about the existence of monitoring programs available to the press in 2013. The Espionage Act of 1917, which classified the disclosure of state secrets as an act of treason, is said by many legal experts and the US government to have been violated by his actions. Snowden asserted that he had a moral duty to act even if he had broken the law. His ‘whistleblowing’ was justified by his claim that he had a responsibility to “inform the people as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” Regardless of whether it was lawful, Snowden believed that the government’s invasion of privacy had to be made public.
Several concurred with Snowden. Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project justified him as acting morally and said he did so out of concern for the general welfare. Snowden may have broken a secret pact, which Radack argued is a contract rather than a loyalty pledge. It is less significant than the social contract a democracy has with its constituents. Others countered that the law was unfair and unconstitutional, so even if he was morally responsible, he wasn’t legal.
Concerning the moral ramifications of Snowden’s conduct, journalists were torn. “He may have committed a crime…but he has done his country a great service,” The New York Times editorial board wrote. Ed Morrissey stated that Snowden was a criminal rather than a hero in an Op-ed piece in the same newspaper: ‘By disclosing information about the behavior rather than reporting it through legal channels, Snowden opted to break the law.’ According to Morrissey, a statute “designed to keep real national-security data and assets secret from our enemies; it is intended to keep Americans safe” should be broken by Snowden to prosecute him for his conduct.
In a Putin proclamation granting citizenship to around 75 people born abroad, Snowden’s name surfaced without any Kremlin response.
Later, Snowden put out a message—basically an updated version of a tweet from November 2020—in which he expressed his desire for seclusion and the continuation of his family.
The tweet stated, “My wife and I have no desire to be separated from our sons after years of separation from our parents.”
“A little stability will help my family after two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile. I want God to grant them and all of our privacy.”
A 2020 Twitter thread in which Snowden said he and his family were asking for dual U.S.-Russian citizenship was connected to the new message, which did not mention the Kremlin leader’s order.
Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s attorney, told the RIA news agency that his client could not be called up because Snowden had never before served in the Russian army.
He declared that Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s spouse who gave birth to a son in 2020, would also submit a citizenship application.
Ned Price, a representative for the US State Department, stated that he was not aware of any modification to Snowden’s citizenship.