New Delhi: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday granting Russian citizenship to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, as reported by the news agency AFP. Snowden was among 75 foreign nationals granted Russian citizenship, according to an order signed by the president.
Snowden, 39, escaped the US and was given refuge in Russia subsequent to leaking secret files in 2013 that uncovered vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor.
US authorities have for quite a long time needed him to get back to the US to have to face a criminal trial on espionage charges, as reported by news agency Reuters.
There was no quick response from Snowden, whose name showed up with no Kremlin remark on a list of 72 foreign-born individuals on whom Putin was conferring citizenship.
Snowden was granted permanent residency in 2020. Snowden said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship without giving up his US citizenship.
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That year a US appeals court found the program Snowden had uncovered was unlawful and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.
Putin, a former Russian spy chief, said in 2017 that Snowden, who keeps a low profile while living in Russia, was wrong to leak US secrets but was not a traitor.
The news reports from in excess of 7,000 classified documents uncovered the inner workings of a giant U.S. government surveillance activity. Intelligence officials have recently said that Snowden might have taken 1.7 million classified files.
The charges against Snowden carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
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