Former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden announced Monday he plans to seek Russian citizenship, while also maintaining his U.S. nationality.
Snowden made the announcement on Twitter as he retweeted his wife, Lindsay's, message from Oct. 28 announcing the couple are expecting a baby. Snowden said they are seeking Russian citizenship to ensure they will be able to live with their future son.
"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," Snowden said in his tweet.
Snowden fled the U.S. in 2013 after leaking classified information on domestic and international surveillance programs carried out by the NSA where he worked as a contractor. He previously worked for the CIA from 2006 to 2009.
Snowden has lived in Russia since 2013, having initially been granted asylum. Last month, Russia approved an open-ended residency permit for him, according to Tass, a state-run Russian news agency that spoke with Snowden's attorney, Anatoly Kucherena.
He faces criminal charges in the U.S. including espionage and theft of government property related to the leak. The U.S. has long sought Snowden's extradition to prosecute him on those charges.
Snowden also faces other legal repercussions. Just last month, a federal court in Virginia said he must pay the U.S. government $5 million from book royalties and speaking fees stemming from his 2019 memoir, Permanent Record.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sided with U.S. officials who said that by not submitting the book for a pre-publication review, Snowden violated nondisclosure agreements he signed while working for the NSA and CIA.
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