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Edward Snowden to apply for Russian citizenship

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Nov. 2 that he plans to apply for Russian citizenship to prevent being separated from his son. (Video: Reuters)

MOSCOW — Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden will apply for Russian citizenship while also keeping his U.S. nationality, he said Monday.

Snowden, who fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking top-secret files on U.S. government surveillance activities, has lived in Moscow for seven years. He received permanent residency last month, his attorney told the Tass state news agency.

Snowden’s wife, Lindsay Mills, announced last week that the couple is expecting their first child, who will be born in Russia.

“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son,” Snowden said Monday on Twitter. “That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual U.S.-Russia citizenship.”

“Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all of the values of the America we love — including the freedom to speak his mind,” Snowden added. “And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.”

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Until this year, foreigners wishing to become Russian citizens were required to first renounce their other citizenships. But legislation passed in April relaxed the rules, allowing Snowden to apply for a Russian passport without giving up his American one.

Snowden, 37, faces espionage charges in the United States. With relations between Moscow and Washington at a low, Russia has refused to turn Snowden over.

In 2016, a declassified House Intelligence Committee report alleged that Snowden had been in contact with Russian intelligence services, a claim he denied at the time. President Trump said in August that he was considering pardoning Snowden.

In an interview with CBS News last year, Snowden said returning to the United States is the “ultimate goal.”

“But if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom-line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial,” Snowden said. “And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense.”

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