Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who escaped punishment after leaking highly classified surveillance programs, has gotten a Russian passport and took the citizenship oath, according to his lawyer, as reported by Russian news outlets on Friday.
According to lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden received the passport and took the oath on Thursday, roughly three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him citizenship. According to the claims, Snowden has not abandoned his US citizenship. Snowden was stuck in a Moscow airport for weeks after landing from Hong Kong on his way to Ecuador when the US canceled his passport in 2013.
He was eventually awarded permanent residency in Russia. In 2017, he married American Lindsay Mills, with whom he had two daughters.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that the US was aware of reports that Snowden had completed his Russian citizenship but could not confirm them, and that questions about his status should be directed to the Russian government. Price, on the other hand, stated that the Biden administration would not be surprised if the reports were true.
“Mr. Snowden has long signaled his allegiance to Russia, this step would only formalize that,” Price told reporters.
Snowden disclosed documents pertaining to the National Security Agency’s gathering of data traveling via the infrastructure of US phone and internet providers. He also revealed information regarding the classified US intelligence budget and the extent of American spying on foreign officials, including leaders of US-allied countries.
Snowden claims he disclosed the revelations because he believed the United States intelligence community had gone too far and violated civil freedoms.
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