(WASHINGTON) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly granted Russian citizenship to American whistleblower Edward Snowden in a decree signed on Monday, according the country’s state news agency.
The decree granting Snowden and 75 other foreign nationals citizenship was published on an official government website.
Snowden’s attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, intend to apply for Russian passports. Mills is also American and has been living in Russia with Snowden.
A former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the United States for leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programs.
The 39-year-old Snowden was granted permanent residency in Russia in 2020 and at the time said he intended to apply for Russian citizenship, but had no plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship.
In December 2020, Snowden and Mills announced they had become parents to a baby boy.
“The greatest gift is the love we share,” Snowden tweeted at the time, posting a photo of him and Mills kissing while holding their newborn.
In 2013, Snowden claimed the U.S. government was spying on its citizens and leaked documents taken from the NSA to support his claim.
Long vilified by current and former members of the intelligence community, Snowden has continued his advocacy for government transparency and pro-whistleblower measures from his home in Moscow.
Snowden said in 2013 that he was motivated by principle to leak the NSA documents, saying he wanted to to pull back the veil on one of the government’s most secretive entities and its programs to track Americans’ phone records and internet usage.
“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” Snowden told the British newspaper The Guardian, which broke the first in a series of headline-grabbing articles on NSA surveillance in June 2013. “That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
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