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Edward Snowden said Russian citizenship will give his family stability nearly a decade after the former National Security Agency contractor leaked files on U.S. surveillance operations and fled to Moscow.
“After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them—and for us all,” Snowden tweeted on Monday in his first public comments since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree granting him citizenship.
Snowden said two years ago that he would apply for dual U.S.-Russian citizenship after he was granted permanent residence in Russia.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated the United States’ position on Monday that Snowden should return to face trial on espionage charges.
“I am familiar with the fact that he has in some ways denounced his American citizenship,” Price said. “I don’t know that he’s renounced it.”
Snowden’s wife, American Lindsay Mills, will also apply for Russian citizenship, his lawyer told state-owned new outlet RIA Novosti. Snowden tweeted a photo on Monday of Mills and the couple’s two sons.
The U.S. whistleblower’s revelations in 2013 about the NSA’s surveillance operations drew praise from privacy advocates and sharp condemnation from U.S. officials who accused him of damaging national security.
His newly-acquired Russian citizenship comes amid escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington, D.C.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is entering its eighth month, with the Kremlin ordering a partial mobilization to conscript 300,000 Russian men into the military.
Price suggested on Monday that Snowden could be conscripted and sent to Ukraine, but his lawyer told Russian media that won’t happen.