Edward Snowden swears allegiance to Russia, receives passport

The US whistleblower's new citizenship means Snowden cannot be extradited to a foreign state, his lawyer told Russian state media.

 Former contractor of US National Security Agency Edward Snowden is seen on a screen during his interview presented via video link at the New Knowledge educational online forum in Moscow, Russia on September 2, 2021 (photo credit: OLESYA ASTAKHOVA/REUTERS)
Former contractor of US National Security Agency Edward Snowden is seen on a screen during his interview presented via video link at the New Knowledge educational online forum in Moscow, Russia on September 2, 2021
(photo credit: OLESYA ASTAKHOVA/REUTERS)

Former US National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden received his Russian passport on Friday after swearing allegiance to Moscow, Russian state media said.

Snowden, who was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin in September, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret surveillance operations in 2013. 

The new citizenship means Snowden cannot be extradited to a foreign state, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russia's Interfax and TASS. US authorities have for years wanted him returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.

"He, of course, is glad, thanks the Russian Federation for the fact that he received citizenship, now a full-fledged citizen of the Russian Federation," Kucherena told Russian media. "Yes, [he] received [a passport]. He took an oath."

 Blank Russian passports are pictured during production at Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 11, 2019 (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS) Blank Russian passports are pictured during production at Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 11, 2019 (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

Snowden's wife to also gain Russian citizenship

Snowden's wife Lindsay Mills, who he married in Russia in 2017 and who gave birth to a son in 2020, also previously applied and is expected to obtain citizenship, Snowden's attorney added. 

"Currently, we are collecting the necessary documents to apply for citizenship," Kucherena said on Mills. "I think that the process will not take too long."

Russia previously granted Snowden permanent residency rights in 2020, paving the way for him to obtain Russian citizenship.