News ID: 109703
Publish Date : 03 December 2022 - 21:46

U.S. Whistleblower Snowden Swears Allegiance to Russia, Gets Passport

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed the scale of secret surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), has sworn an oath of allegiance to Russia and received a Russian passport, TASS has reported.
“Yes, he got [a passport], he took the oath,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, told the state news agency TASS.
“He of course is happy and thankful to the Russian Federation for his citizenship – he’s now a fully fledged citizen of Russia,” Kucherena said. “And most importantly, under the Russian constitution, he cannot be given up to a foreign state.”
“This is still a criminal investigative matter,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday, referring any questions about the report on Snowden to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to comment.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
He is wanted by Washington on espionage charges, but he argues that his actions were in the interests of the United States.
President Vladimir Putin in September granted Russian citizenship to Snowden, who fled the United States after leaking secret files that revealed the extensive eavesdropping activities of the United States and its allies.
“I’m in Russia because the White House intentionally canceled my passport to trap me here. They downed the President of Bolivia’s diplomatic aircraft to prevent me from leaving, and continue to interfere with my freedom of movement to this day,” Snowden, 39, said on Twitter on Friday, referring to events from 2013.
Snowden was referring an incident in July 2013, when Bolivia complained that its presidential jet carrying Evo Morales from Russia to Bolivia had been rerouted and forced to land in Austria over suspicion that Snowden was on board.
Defenders of Snowden hail him as a modern-day dissident for exposing the extent of U.S. spying and violation of privacy.
Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 when the U.S. government stripped him of his passport after he exposed the vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
After fleeing the U.S. in 2013, he was charged with violations of the Espionage Act, which could in total have led to decades in prison.
Snowden in 2020 said he and his then-pregnant wife were applying for Russian citizenship to make sure they are not separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders.
He was granted permanent residency rights the same year by the Russian government, which paved the way for him to obtain the country’s citizenship.