Russian President Vladimir Putin granted U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden full Russian citizenship on Monday.
According to Reuters, Snowden was among 72 foreign-born individuals who were granted citizenship by Putin. The move comes two years after Snowden announced he was applying for a Russian citizenship.
“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 about his citizenship request in November 2020.
“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.
Snowden, who is notorious for his leak of classified documents detailing the government’s surveillance activities, has been living in Russia to evade prosecution.
Former President Donald Trump raised the idea of a potential Snowden pardon in 2020, saying, “I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.” Trump said many figures on both sides of the political aisle are divided on such a move, and he never granted Snowden the pardon.
“It seems to be a split decision,” Trump said at the time. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.”
Trump added, “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that.”
During his pardon remarks, Trump appeared to compare Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance programs to concerns he has had about surveillance of his presidential campaign, including FBI efforts to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) warrants to surveil his campaign. Trump said it was unfair that people like ex-FBI Director James Comey are free while Snowden remains in legal jeopardy.