New York: President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been in the country since 2013 and was granted permanent residency in 2020, media reports said.
His name was included in a list of 72 foreigners who became citizens, RT reported, citing the TASS news agency. There was no comment on the decision from Snowden yet. His wife will also apply for citizenship, according to his lawyer.
Snowden, who fled the US in 2013, was stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving 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 lodged an asylum request.
The US is seeking Snowden to face espionage charges related to his 2013 leak of a mammoth cache of files revealing the NSA’s sprawling surveillance operations, which targeted American civilians to a far greater degree than previously known to the public. Rather than release the documents himself, he reached out to a small group of journalists and filmmakers asking them to curate and publish them as needed.
However, after the publication of a handful of revelations in a section of Western media, and the purchase of the entire archive by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, only 10 per cent on the leaked files have been made public.