Putin grants Russian citizenship to US whistleblower Snowden

President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to former US security contractor Edward Snowden, according to a decree signed by the Russian leader.

Snowden is one of 75 foreign nationals granted Russian citizenship by the decree published on an official government website on Monday.

Snowden, 39, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the US after leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programmes.

The documents revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the National Security Agency.

He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his US citizenship.

That year a US appeals court found the programme Snowden had exposed was unlawful and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.

US authorities have for years wanted Snowden to be returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.

The move comes at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are at historic lows over the conflict in Ukraine.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that the former contractor’s wife Lindsay Mills, an American who has been living with him in Russia, will also be applying for a Russian passport.

The couple had a child in December 2020, who already has a Russian passport having been born in the country.

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