Russia grants U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden permanent residency

Snowden is accused of espionage and theft of government property in the U.S.

Updated: October 22, 2020 - 12:39pm

After living in Russia for several years under asylum, former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has been granted permanent residency in the country, his Russian lawyer announced Thursday. 

Snowden fled the U.S. in 2013 after leaking secret information on U.S. intelligence and a mass surveillance program to the media. He is accused of espionage and theft of government property.

The 37-year-old initially travelled to Hong Kong, then made his way to Moscow, where he has been living in exile. He received asylum from the Russian government, and his residency permit was extended originally from 2017 to 2020. 

Now that he has been granted permanent residency, he is one step closer to Russian citizenship, if wanted. However, Snowden has said in the past that he would like to return to the United States one day if he is guaranteed a fair trial.