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Putin Grants Edward Snowden Russian Citizenship

    Putin Grants Edward Snowden Russian Citizenship
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: The Guardian

    Facts

    • On Monday, Russian Pres. Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has been living in Russia since 2013 after leaking secret files to news outlets The Guardian and The Washington Post. Russia granted Snowden permanent residency in 2020. [1]
    • This comes as tensions are running high between the US and Russia over the Ukraine war. Snowden was charged in 2013 with violating the US Espionage Act but has denied sharing information with Russian intelligence services. [2]
    • Snowden said in 2019 that he was amenable to returning to the US if guaranteed a fair trial, and in 2020, former US Pres. Trump said he was considering granting him a full pardon. Trump, however, never took action. [3]
    • Putin has previously said that Snowden was wrong to divulge US secrets but is "not a traitor"; it remains to be seen if Snowden will support Russian operations in Ukraine. [4]
    • Snowden's name was among 72 other foreigners granted citizenship on Monday. [75 also reported in some outlets.] Snowden's wife is also reportedly planning to apply for Russian citizenship in the future. [5]
    • The White House has reportedly deferred comment on Edward Snowden's Russian citizenship to the US Dept. of Justice, referencing pending criminal charges. [6]
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    Spin

    Narrative A

    The Espionage Act is reserved for Americans who betray their country for the advancement of foreign adversaries, not for whistleblowers. In revealing the inner workings of the government's illegal surveillance of American citizens, Snowden humiliated the deep state and, as a result, was unfairly labeled a "traitor." This is an obvious case of whistleblower retaliation; it's no wonder he fled.

    Narrative B

    Karma can be brutal, and Snowden could very well be conscripted to fight in Ukraine or be under the Kremlin's control for intelligence operations. He certainly has "specialized skills" that would be useful to Moscow. Snowden sparked discussions about civil rights and privacy in the US, but his actions in exile - including his silence on Ukraine - are anchoring him staunchly as a US adversary.

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