Heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted Russian citizenship on Monday. Snowden leaked a massive cache of classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) proving the US government conducted widespread surveillance against its own citizens.
In 2013, Snowden turned over the NSA documents to Glenn Greenwald and several other journalists, meeting them in Hong Kong after fleeing the United States. Upon leaving the city, however, the Barack Obama White House pulled Snowden’s visa – meaning that when he landed in Moscow to change flights, he was unable to continue on to his planned destination in Latin America.
For almost a decade, Snowden has been stranded in Russia, effectively in exile. In October 2020, Moscow granted Snowden permanent residency status. He applied for citizenship one month later. The request for Russian citizenship was granted on Monday.
In a tweet, Snowden explained that citizenship would offer his family more stability.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS,” he said. “After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them – and for us all.”
According to Reuters, however, the State Department said it was unaware of any changes to Snowden’s citizenship.
The US government has brought charges against Snowden for leaking classified material, which included thousands of pages of documents exposing the NSA’s sweeping mass surveillance program. There is currently no formal extradition treaty between Washington and Moscow, and while Russian officials previously indicated they had no plans to hand over the American whistleblower, they are even less likely to do so now given Snowden’s newly granted citizenship.