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Thursday, December 8, 2022

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US Whistleblower Edward Snowden Granted Russian Citizenship

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Russia has granted citizenship to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and a United States (US) whistleblower Edward Snowden. Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday granting him the granting. Edward Snowden had earlier leaked extensive US intelligence surveillance operations.

NSA’s Defensive Tactics

He still facing charges in the US. In 2020, the surveillance conducted by NSA of millions of Americans’ telephone records pronounced illegal by the US Court of Appeals. Before the revelations, major US officials from the intelligence had emphasized on ‘collecting data unknowingly’ from people’s private phone records.

The officials further defended the NSA’s program by saying it had proved beneficial in combatting domestic terrorism, with the convictions of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh, of San Diego, for providing aid to al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

In 2020, Snowden had tweeted expressing his and his wife’s desire to not get separated with their son and so they were applying for a dual US-Russian citizenship.

Expressing happiness at getting the Russian citizenship, he felt elated and prayed for his family’s privacy.

On the question of whether Edward Snowden would be enlisted in the Russian army, as part of the nation’s mobilisation campaign to fight in Ukraine, Snowden’s lawyer Anatoliy Kucherena said on Monday that Snowden never served in the Russian army and therefore would not be called up to take part in the partial mobilization.

The Snowden Effect

Snowden had immigrated to Russia in 2013 to escape charges against him in the US after he exposed NSA’s highly classified information. He disclosed the agency’s global surveillance programs. These programs were run by the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance in collaboration with telecommunication companies and European governments.

The leakages made the people aware about the agency that was collecting data from their electronic communications, its cybersecurity initiatives and how all this impacted individuals’ privacy. It sparked a debate over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy. The impact of the revelations is known as the Snowden Effect.

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