US whistleblower Edward Snowden and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders, he said today.
Snowden’s wife, Lindsay, is expecting a child in late December, the RIA news agency cited Anatoly Kucherena, his Russian lawyer, as saying.
Snowden, 37, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the US National Security Agency where he was a contractor.
He is wanted in the US on espionage charges after he leaked information showing that agents from the NSA were collecting telephone records from millions of US citizens.
‘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,’ Snowden wrote on Twitter.
Edward Snowden and his wife Lindsay Mills have applied for Russian citizenship to stop them being separated from their future son in an ‘era of pandemics and closed borders’, the US fugitive said today
‘Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love, including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited.
‘Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.’
Russia has already granted Snowden permanent residency rights, his lawyer said last month, a vital step towards Russian citizenship.
Last week Snowden and his wife Lindsay Mills announced they are expecting their first child together.
The news was first shared by Mills in a tweet, in which the acrobat and blogger also posted an image, showing a silhouette of Snowden crouching down and kissing her baby bump.
‘A long time in the making: our greatest collaboration is coming soon,’ the 35-year-old wrote.
She later posted for a second time, referring to the baby as ‘citizenfive,’ an allusion to the award-winning 2014 documentary Citizenfour, which chronicled how Snowden came to lift the lid on the NSA spying scandal.
The news was first shared by Mills in a tweet, in which the acrobat and blogger also posted an image, showing a silhouette of Snowden crouching down and kissing her baby bump
Snowden later retweeted the post, writing in response: ‘You made me believe in happy endings. I love you, darlin.’
Followers of the couple were quick to congratulate them on the news, with the occasional joke also shared.
‘I wonder if Google already knew the gender?’ one user asked.
‘Congrats! I’m sure Ed will pick the most secure baby monitor,’ quipped another.
Snowden has previously stated that he was hoping to one day return home to the United States.
His lawyer Kucherena said on October 22 that his residency permit was extended and is now indefinite.
Moscow only recently relaxed its strict citizenship laws to allow individuals to hold Russian passports without rejecting their original nationalities.
Kucherena said the application was filed in April but the process was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Snowden (pictured in 2016) has been granted permanent residency in Russia, his lawyer said last month
She later posted for a second time, referring to the baby as ‘citizenfive,’ an allusion to the award-winning 2014 documentary Citizenfour, which chronicled how Snowden came to lift the lid on the NSA spying scandal
Kucherena said it was ‘natural’ that Snowden wanted to return to the United States but will only do so when the case against him is closed.
Earlier this month, a US federal judge ordered Edward Snowden to hand over to the US government $5.2million he made from book sales and speeches, according to the Justice Department.
The 37-year-old published a book last year without government approval which breached contracts he had signed with the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Snowden was required to submit books and speeches to the government before publication to ensure classified information is not exposed.
In the book, Snowden explains how he viewed himself as a whistleblower by revealing details about the government’s mass collection of emails, phone calls and internet activity in the name of national security.
Snowden has so far raked in more than £3.2million ($4.2million) from sales of his book. He has also earned another million dollars through his speeches.
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump said he would ‘take a look’ at pardoning Snowden but has not made further comment on the matter.
A 2015 petition calling on then president Barack Obama to pardon the whistleblower and privacy advocate was rejected by the White House.
Snowden keeps a low profile in Russia. He has praised the country’s natural beauty and the warmth of its people, while using social media to criticise government policy from time to time.