NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks live from Russia during the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal on November 4, 2019.
Pedro Fiúza | NurPhoto | beautiful pictures
WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship on Monday to a former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s name appears as one of about 70 foreign nationals listed in a decree and was approved by Putin for Russian citizenship.
The former NSA intelligence officer denied the US government’s accusations, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia to evade federal prosecution after leaking classified documents to journalists. He was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 and was later a permanent resident. Snowden, 39, has remained in Russia ever since.
Putin’s decision to grant Snowden citizenship came just days later ordered about 300,000 people to take part in the war in Ukraine.
Subsequent reports from more than 7,000 classified documents revealed the inner workings of a massive US government surveillance operation. Intelligence officials have previously said that Snowden may have taken 1.7 million classified files.
Stories published in The Guardian and The Washington Post exposed a vast government-run espionage program that monitors the communications of criminals, potential terrorists, and citizens alike. law enforcement. Other accounts document how Washington also secretly spied on some of America’s closest allies, such as then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Snowden is charged with theft of US government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence. The charges carry prison sentences of up to 30 years.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington’s position on the former US intelligence contractor has not changed. He added that he was not aware of any changes to Snowden’s US citizenship status.