Russia grants citizenship to NSA whistleblower Snowden

STORY: Former U.S. intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday was granted Russian citizenship by that country’s president Vladimir Putin.

This comes nine years after Snowden first exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The now 39-year-old fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA, where he worked.

At the time, he spoke to the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras:

“When you see everything, you see them on a more frequent basis, and you recognise that some of these things are actually abuses. And when you talk to people about them, in a place like this where this is the normal state of business, people tend not to take them very seriously…”

U.S. authorities have for years wanted him returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.

Putin, himself a former Russian spy chief, said in 2017 that Snowden was wrong to leak U.S. secrets but was not a traitor.

Russia granted Snowden permanent residency rights in 2020, paving the way for him to obtain Russian citizenship.