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Putin grants Russian citizenship to whistleblower Edward Snowden

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks live from Russia through the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal on November 4, 2019.

Pedro Fiúza | NurPhoto | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship on Monday to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, in line with a decree translated by NBC News.

Snowden’s name appears as one in all roughly 70 foreign nationals approved by Putin for Russian citizenship.

The previous NSA intelligence officer turned U.S. government whistleblower, fled to Hong Kong and later to Russia in to evade federal prosecution after leaking classified documents to journalists. He was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 and later everlasting residency. Snowden, 39, has remained in Russia ever since.

The following news reports from greater than 7,000 classified documents revealed the inner workings of a colossal U.S. government surveillance operation. Intelligence officials have previously said that Snowden could have taken 1.7 million classified files.

Stories published in The Guardian and The Washington Post exposed an enormous government-run spy program that monitored communications of criminals, potential terrorists and law-abiding residents alike. Other accounts documented how Washington also secretly monitored a few of America’s closest allies, like then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden was charged with theft of U.S. government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence. The fees carry a jail sentence of as much as 30 years.

That is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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