Vladimir Putin granted Russian passport to NSA whistleblower who fled US after leaking top secret documents
President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russian news agency TASS confirmed on Monday. The name of the American was entered without fanfare on a list of 72 foreigners who became citizens.
Snowden, who applied for citizenship in 2020 after being granted permanent residency, did not comment on the decision on Monday evening Moscow time. His wife will also apply for citizenship, according to Snowden’s lawyer.
Booz-Allen’s former contractor is not eligible for mobilization to the Ukrainian front because he did not serve in the Russian army, the lawyer said in a statement to the media, pouring cold water over feverish social media speculation that Snowden could be drafted now that he was officially a Russian citizen of military age.
While the fact that Snowden has been living in Russia since fleeing the United States in 2013 has been seen as “evidence“he was undermining the US government on behalf of Moscow, he was dumped at Sheremetyevo airport on his arrival from Hong Kong to catch a connecting flight to Cuba after the US canceled his passport mid-flight. He was reportedly en route to Ecuador, where he had applied for asylum with what was then a government sympathetic to American dissidents.
The United States still wants Snowden home to face espionage charges related to his 2013 leak of a huge cache of files that exposed the NSA’s sprawling surveillance operations, which targeted American civilians in a much greater extent than the public previously knew. Rather than release the documents himself, however, the whistleblower contacted a small group of journalists and filmmakers, including Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, asking them to organize and release them as needed.
After the publication of a handful of disturbing revelations alongside their source documents in the Washington Post, The Guardian and other establishment outlets led Washington to demand the head of Snowden, the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, soon purchased the entire archive, using it as the basis for his company First Look Media, which launched The Intercept with the Snowden docs as its headliner. However, the site has never released more than 10% of leaked files in the 15 years it has hosted them. Despite Omidyar’s billions, The Intercept cried poverty when it shut down access to this small fraction of the archive in 2019.
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This decision which was made without consulting Snowden, who had made himself de facto stateless in order to make their contents public. The surveillance program he exposed has since been declared illegal by a US appeals court.
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