Putin grants citizenship to Edward Snowden, who revealed US wiretapping

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted citizenship to former security adviser Edward Snowden, who leaked information about top US surveillance programs and is still wanted by Washington on espionage charges.

Snowden, 39, was one of 72 foreigners granted citizenship in a decree signed by Putin.

Snowden, who considers himself a whistleblower, has fled the US to avoid prosecution and lives in Russia, which granted him asylum in 2013.

Snowden was granted permanent residency in 2020, and his lawyers said at the time that he would apply for a Russian passport without giving up his US citizenship.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti on Monday that Snowden’s wife, Lindsey Mills, is also now applying for Russian citizenship. Mills joined Snowden in Moscow in 2014. They got married in 2017 and had a son.

Kucherena also said that because Snowden had never served in the Russian military, Snowden would not be subject to the partial military mobilization that Putin ordered last week to help with Russia’s flagging war in Ukraine. Putin said only those with previous experience would be summoned to the partial mobilization, although there were widespread reports of summonses going to others, including men arrested in anti-mobilization protests.

White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre declined to comment on Snowden’s new passport, instead referring questions to prosecutors seeking his extradition. “Therefore, we will direct you to the Department of Justice for any details on this, as I believe there are criminal charges against him,” Jean-Pierre said.

Snowden’s revelations, Published First The Washington Post and Guardian, arguably the biggest security breach in US history. The information he disclosed included top-secret NSA surveillance and extraction of vast amounts of digital information as part of a program known as PRISM.

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In 2017, in a documentary produced by American director Oliver Stone, Putin said he did not consider Snowden a “traitor” for leaking government secrets.

“As a former KGB agent, you must have hated what Snowden did with every fiber of your being,” Stone says in the clip.

“Snowden is not a traitor,” Putin replied. “He has not betrayed the interests of his country. He has not transferred any information to any other country that would harm his own country or his own people. The only thing Snowden does, he does publicly.

In 2020, Snowden explained his decision to seek dual citizenship.

“After many years of separation from my parents, my wife and I do not want to be separated from our son. That is why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we are applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter at the time.

“Lindsay and I will remain Americans and raise our son with all of the American values ​​we hold dear — including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I return to the States so the whole family can be reunited,” Snowden said. was added.

The War in Ukraine: What You Need to Know

Latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial demobilization” of troops in a September 21 address to the nation, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against the West, which seeks to use Ukraine “as a tool to divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our Live updates here.

Fighting: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

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Affiliate polls: The referendums, which are illegal under international law, will be held from September 23 to 27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged vote will be held starting Friday in Kherson by a Moscow-appointed administration.

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