In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, leaked classified information about the NSA’s mass surveillance program to the press. As a result, he was charged with espionage by the US government and was forced to seek asylum in Russia. On Monday, September 26th, 2022, Snowden was granted Russian citizenship. Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013, and he has been granted temporary asylum there on multiple occasions. He has said that he would like to return to the US, but only if he is guaranteed a fair trial. If he were to return to the US without such assurance, he would likely face a lengthy prison sentence.
The US government has called Snowden a traitor and has demanded that he be returned to stand trial. However, many people believe that Snowden is a hero who exposed illegal government activity. Some have even suggested that he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Edward Snowden.
The move by Russia is likely to further strain relations between the US and Russia. The US has long demanded that Russia extradite Snowden, but Russia has refused, citing his fear of persecution. In granting him citizenship, Russia is effectively saying that they will protect Snowden from the US government. It remains to be seen what this means for Snowden’s future. He has said in the past that he would like to return to the US, but it seems unlikely that he will be able to do so now that he is a Russian citizen. For now, it looks like Edward Snowden will be calling Russia home for the foreseeable future.