early and often

Edward Snowden Is Now a Russian Citizen

Snowden appearing via video at a conference in Texas in June. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/Shutterstock

Nine years after getting stranded in Moscow unexpectedly, American whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted full Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

A contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden leaked classified documents in 2013 showing that the U.S. government was running a mass-surveillance operation on American citizens. Charged with violating the Espionage Act, Snowden flew from Hong Kong to the Moscow airport, where he lived for over a month before he was allowed to leave the premises.

Last year, the 39-year-old was granted permanent residency and said that he intended to apply for citizenship without renouncing his U.S. citizenship. His wife, Lindsay Mills, is also applying for a Russian passport, according to their lawyer. At the time his permanent residency was announced, he claimed it was not a political act but one of convenience in order to let his family travel outside Russia more easily. Snowden has said in the past that he would return to the United States if he were guaranteed a fair trial for his charges, which would put him in prison for decades.

Putin’s decree granting Snowden citizenship comes as Russia loses scores of able-bodied men crossing the border to avoid conscription into the disastrous war against Ukraine. Though the Russian government stated on Monday that people with dual citizenship are eligible for the draft, his lawyer claimed that because he has never served in the Russian army, he is not eligible to be sent to Ukraine.

Edward Snowden Is Now a Russian Citizen