Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden has received a Russian passport after swearing an oath to the country, his attorney told state media Friday.
Snowden went to Russia in 2013 while fleeing the United States after he leaked thousands of NSA documents revealing mass government surveillance of citizens and was charged by the U.S. government with theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act. He was granted permanent residency in Russia in 2020 but had not renounced his U.S. citizenship as of September, when Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to grant him Russian citizenship.
“Edward received a Russian passport yesterday and took the oath in accordance with the law,” his attorney Anatoly Kucherena said. “He is, of course, happy, thanking the Russian Federation for the fact that he received citizenship. And most importantly, under the Constitution of Russia, he can no longer be extradited to a foreign state.”
Swearing an oath of allegiance to Russia is common practice for foreigners who are becoming citizens. The oath includes swearing “to protect the freedom and independence of the Russian Federation, to be loyal to Russia, to respect its culture, history and traditions.”
After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS.
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. https://t.co/24NUK21TAo pic.twitter.com/qLfp47uzZ4
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 26, 2022
Putin has previously said that he considers Snowden’s actions to be wrong, but that he is “not a traitor” because they were apparently in the interest of his country. Snowden has justified his decision to seek Russian citizenship as a way to keep his family together. He says he wants to return to the United States someday and wishes to maintain U.S. citizenship. (RELATED: Edward Snowden Leaked US Secrets To China — Some Republicans Now Want Trump To Pardon Him)
A State Department spokesperson said Friday the U.S. is aware of reports that Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.