The man responsible for the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S. intelligence history has been granted Russian citizenship.
Nearly a decade ago, Edward Snowden released classified documents about the American government’s mass surveillance program. Russian President Vladimir Putin has allowed him to stay in Russia ever since, granting him permanent residency in 2020.
In 2013, Snowden removed 1.5 million classified documents from secure National Security Agency (NSA) networks. Of course, the government has declared that “the vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests — they pertain instead to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.”
Upon hearing the news, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Snowden needs to return stateside and pay for his actions. Price snarked, “Perhaps the only thing that has changed is that, as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
Former President Donald Trump floated the idea of pardoning Snowden in 2020 but never did.