Explained: Why was Snowden granted Russian citizenship
New Delhi, Sep 27: US whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted citizenship in Russia by President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The decision comes nine years after he exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The US wanted Snowden to return to the country to face criminal charges for espionage. However Snowden's name appeared without Kremlin comment in a decree by Putin conferring citizenship on 72 foreign born nationals.
Snowden who worked in the NSA made shocking revelations about the agency. He fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia. He revealed that the NSA had taken part in several global surveillance programmes with the cooperation of the European government and several telecommunication agencies.
In 2020 he was granted permanent residency rights which paved the way for him to obtain Russian citizenship. In the same year, the US appeals court found that the programme Snowden had exposed was unlawful and the US intelligence leaders defending it publicly were not telling the truth.
In 2017 Putin had said that Snowden who keeps a low profile while living in Russia was not right in leaking US secrets. He however added that Snowden was not a traitor.