“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That's why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we're applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” former CIA and NSA contractor turned-whistleblower wrote in a series of tweets on Saturday.
The surprise announcement, which is poised to galvanize critics demanding he be tried for "treason," comes days after Snowden and his wife Lindsay revealed they are expecting their first child – who will receive Russian citizenship when born.
Last week – seven years after he had arrived in Moscow and eventually received sanctuary from Washington's attempts to silence him – Snowden was granted a Russian permanent residency permit.
He has been living in exile ever since he blew the lid off unprecedented mass surveillance operations conducted by US intelligence and its allies – including leaking a massive trove of documents proving the warrantless collection of Americans’ telephone records. Seven years later, a federal appeals court finally ruled that the bulk collection of data to spy on Americans was indeed illegal.
The Americans have demanded his extradition to face charges for violating the Espionage Act, and the 37-year-old whistleblower faces the prospect of up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Snowden has repeatedly voiced his desire to go back to the United States if pardoned, or at least if there were any chance of getting a fair trial. US President Donald Trump, who once labeled the whistleblower a “traitor,” seemingly softened his stance recently. But while the push for Snowden to be pardoned gained momentum, the outcome of the US election is unpredictable and there is no consensus within the American public and political establishment on the matter.