Edward Snowden becomes a Russian citizen
Former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden says he is grateful for the opportunity to become Russian.
US-born whistleblower Edward Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, announced that Snowden, who leaked classified information on the US' digital surveillance programs, formally became a Russian citizen on Thursday, taking an oath of allegiance and receiving a Russian passport.
He stated that Snowden is grateful for the opportunity to become Russian, emphasizing that he can no longer be extradited to a foreign country. Meanwhile, Snowden's wife is asking for Russian citizenship, he added.
The official event follows President Vladimir Putin's September proclamation granting Snowden Russian citizenship.
The ex-CIA contractor commented on the situation, saying that receiving a Russian passport would give stability to him, his wife, and two sons after "two years of waiting and nearly 10 years of exile."
Who is Snowden?
Snowden is a former US National Security Agency official who leaked details of US intelligence's extensive internet and phone surveillance to media outlets, including The Washington Post and Britain’s The Guardian in early June 2013.
Simultaneously, Snowden left the US for Hong Kong and then to Russia where he was granted temporary asylum.
Then, Russia gave Snowden permission to remain in the country for three more years. Later, the permit was extended until 2020.
On March 18, 2021, Snowden's lawyer announced that the documents required for his client to obtain Russian citizenship were ready, expressing Snowden’s intention to submit them to concerned authorities as soon as possible.
The US charged Snowden with theft, "unauthorized communication of national defense information," and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person." The last two charges were filed in accordance with the 1917 Espionage Act.
It is worth noting that on January 20, 2021, the list of pardons signed by former US President Donald Trump before leaving the White House did not include Edward Snowden or Julian Assange -- the founder of WikiLeaks.