MOSCOW — Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed top-secret U.S. spying programs, said Monday he would seek Russian citizenship.
Snowden, 37, and his wife Lindsay Mills are expecting a baby and he cited the child as motivation to seek dual U.S.-Russian citizenship on his Twitter page Monday.
“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,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin granted asylum to Snowden in 2013, sparking a major diplomatic confrontation with the then administration of President Barack Obama. Last month, the whistleblower was granted permanent residency.
Snowden has defended his decision to reveal highly classified NSA surveillance programs, including the hacking of private internet systems and widespread spying on allies and adversaries of the U.S.
President Donald Trump in August ignited speculation about a possible pardon for Snowden, saying in an interview with the New York Post that he was looking into letting him return to the U.S. without going to prison.
In April, Russia adopted a law allowing dual citizenship in an attempt to partially offset a growing demographic crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, people seeking to become Russian had to renounce their foreign citizenship.