Within months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some in the US media began to question, “Where is Edward Snowden? Whistleblower Silent Since Russia Invaded Ukraine” – as one April Newsweek headline read. The Ukraine offensive had clearly put the NSA whistleblower in a deeply awkward position, and thus he went relatively silent on Twitter. The Russian government had provided him asylum since he fled there from Hong Kong in June of 2013 – as he was a “wanted” man for exposing illegal mass domestic spying by the NSA and US intelligence.
On Monday, Russian state media is out with an explosive headline and new development regarding Snowden’s fate: “Putin signs decree granting Snowden Russian citizenship,” according to state-run RIA Novosti. TASS too is reporting that Putin has given Edward Snowden Russian citizenship.
“In accordance with paragraph ‘a’ of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, I decide: to accept the following persons in the citizenship of the Russian Federation: Edward Joseph Snowden, born June 21, 1983, in the United States of America.”
This is an absolutely huge development and big and consequential Kremlin thumb in the eye to Washington at a moment the two sides are inching closer to direct confrontation and war in Ukraine. The decree is sure to spiral tensions further already at a moment Washington is mulling yet more expanded sanctions.