- BBC News World
Former US intelligence agent Edward Snowden, known for leaking Washington’s secret surveillance operations, has obtained Russian nationality.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree granting him citizenship on Monday.
Snowden, 39, has lived in exile in Russia since he leaked secret information to the press in 2013 of the mass surveillance program of the National Security Agency (NSA for its acronym in English) that would have violated the privacy of millions of Americans.
Snowden, wanted in the US on espionage charges, posted a tweet after the news.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I do not want to be separated from our CHILDREN. After two years of waiting and almost ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them and all of us“.
In 2020, the US Court of Appeals ruled the NSA’s surveillance of the phone records of millions of US citizens illegal.
Snowden later said he felt vindicated by the ruling.
However, if he were to set foot on US soil again, he would face charges that could carry up to 30 years in prison for the accusation of having violated the Espionage Law.
Senior intelligence officials in Washington had publicly denied that the NSA collected data from private phone records, until Snowden exposed evidence showing that it had.
Following the disclosure, authorities alleged that the NSA surveillance program had played a crucial role in the fight against terrorism within the US, facilitating the convictions of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud and Issa Doreh of San Diego for providing aid to al-Shabab militants in Somalia.
Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International (AI) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have repeatedly asked the US government to pardon Snowden, considering that he exposed human rights violations by from the federal agency.
war in ukraine
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoliy Kucherena, was quoted Monday by Russian state news agencies as saying his client never served in the Russian military and therefore would not be called as part of a partial mobilization announced by President Putin last week.
Russian authorities say they want to enlist 300,000 army reservists to fight in Ukraine, amid mounting public opposition.
Opposition Russian media suggest that up to a million people could be summoned.
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