President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to Edward J. Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor who became one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives after he disclosed mass surveillance techniques to news organizations.
Mr. Snowden said in 2020 that he was applying for Russian citizenship, describing the decision as a practical measure to give his family greater freedom crossing borders. His request was granted by Mr. Putin in a decree dated Monday and published by the Kremlin. Mr. Snowden, 39, was among dozens of foreigners granted citizenship in the decree.
After giving hundreds of highly classified N.S.A. documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post in 2013, Mr. Snowden had planned to seek asylum in Ecuador, and set out from Hong Kong to reach South America. But as the U.S. authorities sought to reach him, he became stranded on a layover in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.
After 40 days, he was allowed to leave the transit zone, and he has remained in Russia for the nine years since.
After fleeing the United States in 2013, he was charged with violations of the Espionage Act, which could in total have led to decades in prison. Mr. Snowden has said he has not cooperated with Russian intelligence services while in Moscow, and that he hopes to someday return to the United States.
According to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, Mr. Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that his client would not be eligible for the “partial mobilization” that Mr. Putin declared last week to bolster his country’s forces in the war in Ukraine. Mr. Kucherena said that Mr. Snowden was ineligible for the draft because he had no experience in the Russian Army.
Mr. Kucherena said that Mr. Snowden’s wife would also apply for citizenship, RIA Novosti reported.
In 2020, after he received permanent residency in Russia, Mr. Snowden wrote on Twitter that he and his wife would “remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love — including the freedom to speak his mind.”
He added, “And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.”