In perhaps a not-so-subtle middle finger to the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted citizenship to one of America’s most infamous ex-pats.
39-year-old Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor who exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations by the National Security Agency (NSA), fled the US and was granted asylum in Russia after revealing the hidden files in 2013.
He has been wanted by US authorities for the past nine years to face trial in the US on espionage charges, but Russia has given him a safe haven all these years.
However, this week Russia officially became his home after he was granted citizenship along with 72 foreign-born individuals on a decree coming from the Kremlin with Putin’s name on it.
Snowden tweeted his new status, writing, “After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS. After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them – and for us all.” While Snowden didn’t directly address the decree, it’s clear he’s relieved to have an answer as to where his home will be for the foreseeable future.
Snowden remains a controversial figure worldwide, with some hailing him a hero – and others brand him a traitor.