Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Russian president signed a decree granting citizenship to 75 foreign nationals, according to the Associated Press.
Snowden, a former security contracter, fled the United States in 2013 before leaking a trove of classified documents detailing the mass surveillance programme of the US’s intelligence apparatus.
The 39-year-old became a wanted man, and sought shelter from extradition in Russia after his passport was revoked by US authorities.
He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his US citizenship.
Mr Snowden is married to American Lindsay Mills, and the couple have two children. An attorney for Mr Snowden said in 2020 that Ms Mills was also applying for a Russian passport.
In August 2020, former President Donald Trump said that he was “very strongly” considering a pardon for the whistleblower.
The prospect of a pardon divided Republicans, with Liz Cheney tweeting at the time that Mr Snowden was a “traitor” who deserved to be prosecuted.
Ms Snowden said in 2019 he would consider returning to the US if he was granted a fair trial.
He has been accused of espionage and theft of government property and American authorities have, for years, wanted him extradited to face a criminal trial.
Mr Snowden has 5.3 million followers on Twitter, and runs a Substack newsletter Continuing Ed in which he frequently criticises Joe Biden and the US intelligence agencies.
In his last post on 20 September titled America’s Open Wound, Mr Snowden wrote that the CIA was continuing to carry out illegal extra-judicial killings.
Mr Snowden’s foes have noted that he has been curiously silent about Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
He is yet to comment on being awarded Russian citizenship.
On 21 September, Putin announced what he described as a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to fight against Ukraine.