Putin Grants Edward Snowden Russian Citizenship

Photo: The Guardian

The 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.

  • 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.

The 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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