Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted citizenship to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports.
Snowden fled to Russia after leaking information about a top-secret U.S. surveillance program. He is wanted by authorities in D.C. on espionage charges.
Russia in 2013 granted him asylum and Putin on Monday signed a decree granting citizenship to 72 foreigners, including Snowden.
He was already granted permanent residency in 2020.
Snowden’s lawyer said that his wife, Lindsay Mills, is also applying for Russian citizenship.
Mils joined Snowden in Moscow in 2014 and they were married in 2017. They have two kids.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS,” Snowden tweeted on Monday. “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.”
Snowden’s attorney said that he would not be subject to the partial military mobilization that Putin announced last week.
Sue Gordon, the former deputy director of national intelligence, said that Snowden’s acceptance of Russian citizenship “takes away any illusion that what he was doing [through his disclosures] was to help America.”
“I do think it’s a very questionable decision,” she said, “knowing what we know about what Russia perpetrates, to become a Russian citizen right now. I think it diminishes any patriotic argument that he might have made back then.”
Snowden announced in 2020 that he was applying for Russian citizenship.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” he wrote at the time. “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love — including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.”