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Vladimir Putin grants Russian citizenship to infamous American whistleblower Edward Snowdon

Vladimir Putin grants Russian citizenship to infamous American whistleblower Edward Snowdon

It comes nine years after Snowdon exposed the mass scale of secret surveillance operations by the US National Security Agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted former US intelligence officer Edward Snowden citizenship nine years after he exposed secret surveillance operations happening in America.

Snowden, 39, fled after he leaked top secret files that exposed the mass scale of domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA), where he worked at the time.

He was charged with two counts of espionage and theft of government property and subsequently fled to Moscow, where he spent more than one month living in the terminal of Sheremetyevo Airport, before eventually being granted asylum.

US officials have been lobbying for his extradition ever since.

Edward Snowden, president of Freedom of the Press Foundation addresses the audience via web conference in 2019.
SOPA Images Limited / Alamy

But now it's official. Snowden is a Russian citizen.

Snowdon's name popped up without comment from Putin, the Kremlin, or Snowdon himself in Russian government documents confirming the citizenship on a list of 72 foreign-born people, Reuters reports.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told Reuters that he was unaware of any change to Snowden's citizenship status.

"I am familiar with the fact that he has in some ways denounced his American citizenship. I don't know that he's renounced it," Price said.

Russia granted Snowden permanent residency in 2020 which then paved the way for him to obtain Russian citizenship.

The update on Snowdon's citizenship has prompted some to ask whether he will be forced to enrol in military service.

Putin on Sept 21, 2022.
Kremlin Pool / Alamy Stock

Kremlin-backed state TV head Margarita Simonyan, a staunch Putin supporter, asked on her Telegram channel: "Will Snowden be drafted?"

The announcement on Snowdon's citizenship came five days after Putin announced he would call up citizens to fight in Ukraine.

The draft was Russia's first public mobilisation for conflict since World War II.

Shocking footage of men being being forced on to buses on the frontline has since leaked, with some being dragged or carried kicking and screaming.

Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told RIA news agency that he would not be drafted as he had not previously served in the Russian army.

He added that Snowden's wife Lindsay Mills, who gave birth to a son in 2020, would also apply for Russian citizenship.

Featured Image Credit: Asar Studios / Alamy. Newscom / Alamy.

Topics: Russia, US News, News