In a hugely controversial announcement former NSA analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden says he and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship after last month being given permanent residency status by the Russian government.
He explained in a statement Monday that it's only for the sake of not being separated from his family in the era of the pandemic, which has seen border closures and travel restrictions especially within the Russian Federation. He did emphasize he remains an American and looks forward to the day he can hopefully return to the United States. He would have dual citizenship status.
"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 wrote on Twitter.
He added: "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. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home."
His critics within US national security state circles will no doubt seize on this as showing he's somehow in the service of Russian intelligence. Russian citizenship could also be a factor focused on by federal prosecutors if he ever stands trial in the United States.
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
His son is due in December and will automatically receive Russian citizenship by birthright on Russian soil. Snowden says it will be crucial to have a Russian passport along with his son to prevent any future possible separation or problems at borders.
Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Interfax, "Edward has told me that their baby is expected to be born in December; considering that the baby will be entitled to Russian citizenship by the birthright, he also wants to be a citizen of Russia."
It continues to be a great disgrace of the US that the person who risked his own life and liberty to expose secret lawbreaking and unconstitutional spying by the US Govt on its own population is the one treated as a criminal, in exile, while the lawbreaking officials thrive: https://t.co/Svzal1xLpc— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 1, 2020
The 37-year old, who fled his base at Hawaii and entered Hong Kong in 2013 as some of the most damning parts of the trove of NSA leaks were published in the media, eventually landed in Russia while being pursued by US authorities.
He's long said his intent was to seek asylum somewhere in Latin America, but ended up "stuck" in Putin's Russia.