President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, 9 years after he uncovered the size of secret surveillance operations by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Snowden, 39, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret information in 2013 that exposed huge home and worldwide surveillance operations carried out by the NSA, the place he labored.
US authorities have for years wished him returned to the United States to face a prison trial on espionage costs.
There was no speedy response from Snowden, whose title appeared with out Kremlin remark in a Putin decree conferring citizenship on an inventory of 72 foreign-born people.
The information prompted some Russians to jokingly ask whether or not Snowden can be known as up for navy service, 5 days after Putin introduced Russia’s first public mobilisation since World War Two to shore up its faltering invasion of Ukraine.
“Will Snowden be drafted?” Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state media outlet RT and a vocal Putin supporter, wrote with darkish humour on her Telegram channel.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, instructed RIA information company that his consumer couldn’t be known as up as a result of he had not beforehand served within the Russian military.
He stated that Snowden’s spouse Lindsay Mills, who gave beginning to a son in 2020, would additionally apply for citizenship.
Russia granted Snowden everlasting residency rights in 2020, paving the best way for him to acquire Russian citizenship.
That yr a US appeals courtroom discovered the programme Snowden had uncovered was illegal and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it weren’t telling the reality.
Putin, a former Russian spy chief, stated in 2017 that Snowden, who retains a low profile whereas living in Russia, was unsuitable to leak US secrets and techniques however was not a traitor.