Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted former NSA contractor Edward Snowden Russian citizenship, according to an official decree published on the Russian government portal on Monday.
Snowden is charged with espionage and theft of government property in the United States for leaking to the media reams of information about US intelligence and mass surveillance programs.
The 39-year-old man was live in exile in Moscow having first traveled to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of classified information. He faces up to 30 years in prison in the United States.
In November 2020, Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, applied for Russian citizenship. He had already obtained permanent residence in Russia.
Putin’s decision to grant citizenship to Snowden comes just days after the Russian president threatened to escalate his war in Ukraine, announcing the “partial mobilization” of citizens.
In 2016, the US Congress released a report indicating that Snowden had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia. Snowden immediately disputed the charges, writing on Twitter “they claim without proof that I am in cahoots with the Russians.”
In a tweet on Monday, Snowden wrote: “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 hi exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for their privacy – and for all of us.
Snowden would not be subject to the “partial mobilization” announced by Putin since he did not serve in the Russian army, according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, quoted Monday by the Russian state media RIA Novosti.
“Now the spouse will receive citizenship after receiving it. Now the spouse will apply,” Kucherena told RIA Novosti, referring to Snowden’s wife, Mills.
According to the lawyer, Snowden has a child who was born in the Russian Federation and received Russian citizenship at birth.