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 leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA, where he worked.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted him returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
Snowden’s name appeared without Kremlin comment in a Putin decree conferring citizenship on 72 foreign-born individuals.
Snowden later issued a message, essentially an updated version of a November 2020 tweet, saying he wanted his family to remain together and asking 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 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.”
The new tweet made no reference to the Kremlin leader’s decree, but it was attached to a 2020 Twitter thread in which Snowden said he and his family were applying for dual U.S.-Russian citizenship.