Mr Snowden was initially granted asylum in Russia in 2013 after leaking a trove of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents, and then was granted permanent resident status in Russia in 2020. That year, he announced his decision to seek duel citizenship, stating in a tweet that “after years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son.”
“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,” Mr Snowden wrote then. “And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.”
In September, Mr Snowden received Russian citizenship — tweeting his hope that “a little stability will make a difference for my family.” Mr Kucherena told the Russian news agency Interfax that Mr Snowden’s wife Lindsay Mills is also applying for Russian citizenship. The couple now have two children, both born in Russia.
The US State Department said Friday, in a statement reported by The Washington Post, that it is “aware of the reports” about Mr Snowden’s new passport “not in a position to confirm or deny whether Mr. Snowden has acquired Russian Federation citizenship.”
Despite calls for former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump to pardon Mr Snowden for his role in exposing the extent to the US surveillance project, Mr Snowden is still wanted in the US on charges of espionage. His leak, which came when he was working for the NSA, reshaped the public’s understanding of government spying.
Mr Snowden applied for asylum in numerous countries in 2013, at one point planning to move to Ecuador before ultimately choosing to stay in Russia. Mr Snowden has stayed active in the American political discourse via his social media feed in the years of his exile.
Mr Snowden’s reported acquisition of a Russian passport comes in the midst of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which has now stretched into its tenth month. Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed a partial military mobilisation of the country in November, but Mr Snowden’s lawyer said he was not subject to the recent mobilisation order even though there have been reports that Russians with no prior military experience have drafted into the war effort.