Edward Snowden, 39, fled the US after leaking secret files that revealed domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by NSA

Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday granting Russian citizenship to the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden, 39, a former US intelligence contractor, has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the US after leaking secret files, published by the Guardian, that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the US National Security Agency.

In 2020, Snowden said that he and his then-pregnant wife were applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders

Russia granted him permanent residency rights the same year, paving the way for him to obtain Russian citizenship.

“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our sons,” Snowden, whose name appeared on a list of 72 foreign-born individuals for whom Putin was granting citizenship, said on Monday.

“After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them—and for us all.”