Putin offers Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden, US whistleblower

Putin offers Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden, US whistleblower

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly offered citizenship to Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence officer, nine years after he revealed the scale of the National Security Agency's (NSA) secret monitoring operations.

Snowden, 39, after releasing sensitive information to journalists and becoming a U.S. government whistleblower went to Hong Kong and eventually to Russia to avoid federal prosecution in 2013. He was granted asylum in Russia after leaking confidential documents that year and exposed enormous domestic & international monitoring operations carried out by the NSA.

 Moreover, for years, US officials had wanted him extradited to face a criminal trial on espionage accusations. Theft of US government property, unlawful disclosure of national defense information, and willful disclosure of sensitive communications intelligence were the charges brought against the former NSA intelligence contractor. The charges carry a maximum 30-year prison term

However, just a few days after ordering over 300,000 people to take part in the combat against Ukraine, Putin decided to offer Snowden citizenship. He was allowed permanent residency rights in Russia in 2020, clearing the route for him to gain Russian citizenship.

However, there was no immediate reply from Snowden, whose name appeared on a list of 72 nonnative individuals to whom Putin was bestowing Russian citizenship without any Kremlin remark.

According to sources, more than 7,000 classified documents exposed the inner workings of a massive U.S. government surveillance operation. Officials from the intelligence community have previously claimed that Snowden may have taken 1.7 million confidential documents.

A US appeals court ruled in 2020 that the program Snowden revealed was unconstitutional and that the public justifications provided by US intelligence authorities were misleading.

In 2017, Putin, a former head of the Russian intelligence service, stated that Snowden maintained a low profile whilst residing in Russia and was wrong to reveal US secrets, but was not a traitor.

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