A decree issued by President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to whistleblower and former US NSA employee Edward Snowden, who has been a refugee in Russia since 2013 after fleeing the US.
Mr Snowden’s name appears alongside dozens of others in the decree, published on the Russian government’s website.
Edward Snowden, 39, is wanted by the United States for leaking to the press tens of thousands of documents from the American National Security Agency (NSA) that prove the extent of electronic surveillance conducted by Washington.
The revelations fueled strong tensions between the United States and its allies, and the Russian authorities’ decision to grant him residency angered Washington.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti news agency that Edward Snowden was granted Russian citizenship at his own request.
The whistleblower’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that Mr. Snowden said he would not be affected by the mobilization order for the offensive in Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin decreed last week for some factions of Russians.
“He did not serve in the Russian army and therefore, according to our current law, he does not fall into the category of citizens as it is now called,” he told the RIA Novosti agency.
According to him, Mr Snowden’s partner Lindsey Mills has also applied for Russian citizenship and their Russian-born daughter already has it.
Edward Snowden, who lost his American passport at Washington’s request, remains in Moscow after arriving there from Hong Kong in May 2013 and seeking asylum in Latin America. He eventually found himself alone in Russia, where he was granted asylum.