Edward Snowden’s name appeared without Kremlin comment in a Putin decree conferring citizenship on 72 foreign-born individuals.
The whistleblower fled the US after leaking top-secret documents, almost a decade ago.
President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, nine years after he exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Snowden, 39, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after being left stranded at a Russian airport on route to Ecuador for over a month in 2013, this came after the leaking secret files that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA, where he worked.
Snowden applied for citizenship in 2020 upon receiving permanent residency rights. commenting on the decision he said he wanted his family to remain together and asked for privacy.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS,” the tweet read.
After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 26, 2022
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. https://t.co/24NUK21TAo pic.twitter.com/qLfp47uzZ4
Snowden later Tweeted this poignant comment along with a blog link to his latest article titled: America’s Open WoundThe CIA is not your friend.
“They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.” ― Baruch Spinoza
The opening quote of Snowden’s latest article draws on the very real concerns about unaccountable security services spying on their own citizens with another Baruch Spinoza quote:
“Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.” ― Baruch Spinoza
“They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 26, 2022
― Baruch Spinozahttps://t.co/24ycy31Lsk
Snowden is not eligible for mobilisation to the Ukrainian front as he did not serve in the Russian army, his attorney said in a statement to the media, pouring cold water on feverish social media speculation that Snowden might be drafted now that he was officially a Russian citizen of military age.
While there are many US claims suggesting that the fact Snowden has lived in Russia since fleeing the US in 2013 is “proof” he was undermining the US government on behalf of Moscow that misses out a large proportion of inconvenient truths such as the US neglecting to mention the part of the story where Snowden was stranded in Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from Hong Kong to catch a connecting flight to Cuba after the US cancelled his passport mid-flight.
It was only after a month living in a Mosco airport without a passport the former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia and allowed to leave Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow.
His lawyer at the time, Anatoly Kucherena, said Snowden was issued papers that allowed him to leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he had been stuck since his arrival from Hong Kong on 23 June 2013.
He was reportedly en route to Ecuador, where he had lodged an asylum request with what was then a government friendly toward American dissidents.
That decision was made without consulting Snowden, who had rendered himself a de facto stateless individual after leaking information showing that the US was spying on its own citizens and that content becoming public via media outlets.
The US still wants Snowden returned home to face espionage charges related to his 2013 leak of a mammoth cache of files revealing the NSA’s sprawling surveillance operations, which showed the US was spying on their own citizens to a far greater degree than previously known to the public.
Snowden acted as a whistleblower and reached out to a small group of journalists and filmmakers including Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, instructing them to curate and publish them as needed.
On July 13, 2014, The Guardian published its first story based on an exclusive, seven-hour interview newly conducted with Snowden in a Moscow city centre hotel. Snowden condemned the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill announced to the UK’s House of Commons on July 10 bolstering the state’s right to keep personal data held by Internet and phone companies.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’
Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass such emergency legislation except during total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour. It defies belief.”
On July 13 and 17, The Guardian posted video clips, of about 2 minutes and 14 minutes in length, excerpted from the full interview. On July 18, The Guardian published a nearly 10,000-word edited transcript of their Snowden interview.
A year after arriving in Moscow, Snowden said he is still learning Russian. He keeps late and solitary hours, effectively living on U.S. time. He does not drink, cooks for himself but doesn’t eat much. “
I don’t live in absolute secrecy,” he says. “I live a pretty open life—but at the same time I don’t want to be a celebrity.” He does not work for a Russian organisation, yet he is financially secure thanks to substantial savings from his years as a well-paid contractor and more recently numerous awards and speaking fees from around the world.
After the publication of a handful of disturbing revelations alongside their source documents in the Washington Post, The Guardian, and other establishment outlets that then led to Washington calling for Snowden’s head, billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar quickly purchased the entire archive, using it as the foundation for his company First Look Media, which launched ‘The Intercept with the Snowden docs’ as its headliner. However, the site never released more than 10% of the leaked files during the 15 years it hosted them.
Despite Omidyar’s billions, The Intercept cried poverty when it shut down access to that small fraction of the archive in 2019.
Since then, the surveillance program he exposed was declared unlawful by a US appeals court.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, and Chelsea Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.