This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden announced on November 2 that he is applying for Russian citizenship but will keep his U.S. nationality.
The former American intelligence contractor has been living in exile in Russia since he leaked documents in 2013 detailing a secret U.S. electronic-surveillance program.
Snowden’s stated intention to apply for Russian citizenship comes days after the 37-year-old announced he was expecting a child with his wife, Lindsay Mills. Earlier in October, he had been granted permanent residency by the Russian government.
“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,” Snowden tweeted.
“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,” he wrote.
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. https://t.co/cCgT0rr37e
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 1, 2020
Moscow recently relaxed its citizenship laws to allow an individual to gain Russian citizenship without a requirement to renounce their original nationality.
Snowden was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for leaking some 1.5 million secret documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) on government surveillance, prompting public debate about the legality of some of the agency’s programs, as well as over privacy concerns and how the United States snoops on its citizens and neighbors.
If convicted in the United States, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Snowden fled the United States in 2013, traveling to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he was stranded at a Moscow airport after the United States revoked his passport and he was later granted temporary asylum.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in August that he was considering a pardon for Snowden, while in September, the whistle-blower called on French President Emmanuel Macron to grant him asylum.