Whistleblower and Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden announced on Monday, November 1, that he is applying for Russian citizenship but intends to maintain his U.S. nationality.
He made the announcement on Twitter by retweeting his wife Lindsay's message, where she announced that they were expecting a baby.
"A long time in the making: our greatest collaboration is coming soon," she tweeted on Wednesday, October 28, with a picture of her husband kissing her baby bump.
"You made me believe in happy endings. I love you, darlin," he wrote at the time. "After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That's why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we're applying for dual US-Russian citizenship," he added three days later.
"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. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited," he continued. "Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home."
Snowden fled the U.S. in 2013 after he leaked classified information about domestic and international surveillance programs carried out by the NSA. He worked at the NSA as a contractor and previously worked for the CIA from 2006 to 2009.
Snowden has lived in Russia since 2013 and was granted asylum. Last month, the Russian government approved an open-ended residency permit for him, according to Tass. His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the state-run outlet that his client was not considering applying for Russian citizenship at the time of publication on Thursday, October 22.
Snowden's residence permit was due to expire in April but was automatically extended until June due to the coronavirus pandemic. Once the lockdown ended, Snowden applied to extend the permit.
Snowden faces criminal charges in the U.S. due to the leak, which includes espionage and theft of government property. He also faces legal repercussions for his 2019 memoir, Permanent Record. Last month, a federal court in Virginia said that he has to pay the government $5 million in book royalties and speaking fees.
As he did not submit the book for a pre-publication review, Snowden violated non-disclosure agreements he signed when he worked for the NSA and the CIA.
For his two violations of the Espionage Act, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the counts, should he be brought to the authorities. For several years now, authorities have wanted him to be returned to the United States to face the charges.
After the leak, he sought asylum in several countries. In August 2014, he received a three-year Russian residence permit for three years and then was granted an extension for another three years.
He is now the president at Freedom of Press.