”American Snowden has obtained Russian citizenship.” On September 26, this explosive news rushed to the hot search of news in many countries.
Edward Snowden, a CIA analyst-turned-defense contractor employee wanted by the U.S. for exposing the U.S. “Prism” surveillance program, has lived in Russia for more than nine years.
He has been labeled many labels: traitor, hero, whistleblower, coward, patriot… Now, he has a new identity.
On September 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree granting Russian citizenship to more than 70 foreigners, including Snowden.
Snowden responded to the acquisition of Russian citizenship on social networking sites, saying: “After being separated from my parents for many years, my wife and I don’t want to be separated from our son again. After two years of waiting and nearly 10 years in exile, a little peace of mind will give me have a positive impact on their families. I pray that their private lives and that of all are not violated.”
Snowden detonated the “shattering secret” in Hong Kong, China.
On May 20, 2013, he flew to Hong Kong from the United States and checked into room 1014 of the Miramar Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. His luggage was simple, only a few clothes and a few laptops, which contained tens of thousands of secret documents from the US government.
The downstairs of the hotel is a shopping mall, where people come and go, and the situation is complicated. Snowden, who received professional training from the US intelligence agency, took out a full set of anti-eavesdropping and anti-surveillance skills. He closed the windows, closed the curtains, and stuffed the door of the guest room with pillows and sheets. Every time he uses the computer, he wraps himself and the screen in a quilt to prevent it from being caught by a camera that may exist in the room.
Except for meals, he rarely goes out. Before going out, he would put a glass of water and a napkin dripping with soy sauce behind the door. Anyone who opened the door would knock the water over, and the shape of the soy sauce stain on the napkin would change. This is an old espionage trick used to detect if someone has broken into a room.
On June 6, the British “Guardian” and the American “Washington Post”, based on the secret documents provided by Snowden, revealed that the US National Security Agency, through the “Prism” project, directly entered the central server of US Internet companies to mine data and collect data. Happening. American Internet giants such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Facebook are all involved in this matter. This is the origin of the “prism gate”.
Three days later, Snowden revealed his identity as a “leaker”. He disclosed that the U.S. government has extensively monitored domestic and foreign phone calls and monitored Internet communications, including the communications facilities of several international dignitaries. As early as the Bush administration in 2007, US intelligence agencies have been analyzing users’ emails and documents to obtain needed information in US multinational Internet companies. The NSA is also carrying out a large number of cyber-attacks around the world. The incident immediately caused an uproar.
Snowden is wanted by the U.S. government for espionage, theft and unauthorized disclosure of defense and intelligence information. He is careful not to contact the outside world easily, except for interviews with reporters such as The Guardian. But the outside world is watching where he will go.
On June 23, 2013, the Hong Kong SAR government issued a statement confirming that Snowden had left Hong Kong. Hong Kong media reported on this, saying that Snowden left Hong Kong at about 10:55 a.m. that day. He evaded the tracking of American agents lurking near the hotel and flew to Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU213.
Strangely enough, just a week before Snowden traveled to Russia, American politicians began framing China. Former US Vice President Cheney publicly accused Snowden of being a “Chinese spy”. On June 17, Snowden firmly denied these claims when connecting with readers of the “Guardian”, saying that he had long expected to be discredited after revealing the secret. But the US media continued to hype that “the US is investigating whether Snowden is a Chinese spy”. In this regard, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuted it on June 25, saying that this is completely nonsense and extremely irresponsible.
Equally outrageous was Russ Bridger, then editor-in-chief of The Guardian. On August 19 of that year, he commented on the newspaper’s website that the hard drive containing the contents of Snowden’s leaks, which had been monitored by the British intelligence agency GCHQ, was destroyed in the newspaper’s basement. He said the hard drives were broken and smashed “to ensure that there is no possibility that the remaining fragments could get into the hands of Chinese spies.”
After arriving in Hong Kong, Snowden (left) disclosed the US government’s “Prism” project to “Guardian” reporter Greenwald (center).
After Snowden left Hong Kong, the People’s Daily published an article that made the truth clear: “Prism Gate” has been a matter of the United States’ own family from the very beginning, and the United States needs to deeply reflect on this. In view of the concerns of the international community and the people of various countries caused by the exposed information, the United States is obliged to make necessary explanations based on facts such as cyber attacks by relevant agencies of the US government. The voices made by some US politicians and media around the “Prism Gate” are really harsh. Not only do they lack a basic sense of self-examination, but there are even groundless accusations against other countries.
Snowden boarded a Russian plane, but in the end it seemed that he didn’t want to go to Moscow, but Havana, Cuba. Aeroflot confirmed that he had purchased a flight from Moscow to Havana. But he didn’t show up on that flight.
Everyone thought that Snowden was playing “Escape Plan”. In fact, at that time, no country had explicitly stated that Snowden would be given asylum, and he could only be stranded in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport.
When Snowden was stranded at the airport, the United States was preventing him from taking refuge in a third place. Ecuador’s foreign minister said Snowden had sought political asylum in the country. The United States, through diplomatic and law enforcement channels, communicated with countries where Snowden may travel, requesting that he be deported to the United States for trial. At that time, there was no extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, and although there were extradition treaties between the United States and Cuba, Ecuador and other Latin American countries, these countries may refuse extradition for political reasons.
On August 1, Snowden, who had been trapped at the airport for more than a month, finally obtained permission to enter Russia. Russian media said that after Snowden’s application for asylum in many countries was rejected, Russia gave him temporary asylum for a year on the condition that he ceased his activities against the United States. Later, he was granted a long-term residence permit in Russia. In October 2020, Russia granted him permanent residency.
As a Russian asylum, Snowden is doing well.
In 2014, the American HBO television network produced a documentary about him – “The Fourth Citizen”, which won the 87th Academy Award for Best Documentary Award. Because Snowden could not return to the United States, his girlfriend Lindsay Mills took the stage to accept the award. Mills was originally an acrobat. In October 2014, she left the United States to reunite with Snowden in Moscow. Three years later, the two got married and had two children. Snowden is all smiles and enjoying his family in the family photos released by Snowden.
Also in 2014, he started speaking publicly. At the TED conference that year, he gave a speech titled “Retrieving the Internet that belongs to us” by video connection, and discussed the topics of surveillance and Internet freedom with the guests present. In August 2020, the American political news website revealed in a report that Snowden had earned nearly $1.2 million (about 8.59 million yuan) from his speeches in the previous years.
Snowden’s autobiography, The Permanent Record.
In his spare time, Snowden also has a personal hobby – playing music. In April 2016, he and French electronic music master Jean-Michel Jarre (Gong Li’s husband) jointly recorded an electronic music “Export”. Jarre said the pair’s collaboration was an attempt to musically express “the CIA, NSA, and FBI manhunt for a young man.”
On September 17, 2019, Snowden’s autobiography “Permanent Record” was published. An exhaustive review of his life, the book devotes considerable space to his unease about U.S. government surveillance. September 17th is Constitution Day of the United States. Snowden chose to release his autobiography simultaneously to 20 countries around the world on this special day, which is undoubtedly hitting the “face” of the United States. The U.S. government sued him, accusing him of violating nondisclosure agreements. This in turn aroused the curiosity of the public, causing “Permanent Record” to be sold out as soon as it was released, and it rushed to the top of the new book sales list that day. Snowden did not forget to “make up for the knife” on Twitter, saying “this is a book that the US government doesn’t want you to see, and it is now the world’s number one bestseller.”
Putin’s attitude towards Snowden’s arrival was very calm.
In July 2013, when Snowden was still stranded at the Moscow airport, Putin repeatedly said that Snowden was trapped in Russia, which was entirely caused by the United States. He said that Snowden went to Russia uninvited and did not want to stay in Russia, but wanted to transit to other countries. But the United States blocked Snowden from continuing his journey. “They intimidated other countries themselves, and no country wanted Snowden. Basically, the United States itself trapped him on our soil.” The Guardian reporter Greenwald who helped Snowden broke the news It also said the United States revoked Snowden’s passport, pressured allies to close their airspace and prevented Snowden from leaving Russia.
At the beginning of Snowden’s arrival, Putin called Snowden a weirdo in an interview with a Russian state television station. Putin said: “Sometimes, I think he is a strange guy.” He said that the US intelligence services consider Snowden a “traitor” and Snowden considers himself a “human rights fighter”.
At the time, relations between Russia and the United States had soured over Snowden, and then-President Barack Obama cancelled a bilateral meeting with Putin. But Putin still insisted that Russia would not “give up” on Snowden.
In March 2014, Russia-US relations were further strained by the Crimea incident. Putin spoke of Snowden in May of that year even harder. Putin said: “He (Snowden) arrived at the transit area of our airport and was informed that no one would accept him. They (the Americans) terrorized everyone. What should we do? Russia is not a country that extradites human rights fighters. “He also asked: “Why do they (Americans) terrorize the world?”
In 2017, Putin once again talked about his personal views on Snowden. Snowden’s actions were wrong, he said, but he was not a traitor because he did not leak information that would harm the country to other countries. At the time, Trump was preparing to take over as president of the United States and frequently courted Russia. Morrell, the former acting director of the CIA, said the extradition of Snowden would be Russia’s “big gift” to Trump. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said that was absolutely impossible. “The CIA will give people as gifts and give up those who seek your protection.”
Having lived in Russia for many years, Snowden also considered applying for Russian citizenship. The original Russian law stipulates that foreigners who apply for Russian citizenship need to issue a certificate of renunciation of their original nationality in the relevant institutions of their country. On April 24, 2020, Putin signed the Act to Simplify the Naturalization of Foreign Citizens, which no longer requires the above procedure. Shortly after the bill took effect, Snowden said on social media that he would apply for Russian citizenship. But he also made it very clear that he applied for dual American-Russian citizenship. He said that he still hopes to return to the United States, not asking for a pardon, but only for a fair trial.
After Putin granted Snowden citizenship, some U.S. politicians couldn’t help themselves, saying “I hope Snowden will be sent to the front line of the Russia-Ukraine conflict”. U.S. State Department spokesman Price said that Snowden did not renounce his U.S. citizenship and would not change his U.S. citizenship, but it increased the possibility of being drafted into the Russian military.
In this regard, Snowden’s lawyers said that Snowden was not within the scope of the partial mobilization. The lawyer also introduced that Snowden’s children were born in Russia, so they also have Russian nationality. Meanwhile, Snowden’s wife will also apply for Russian citizenship.
There are also concerns over whether Putin will meet Snowden, a new Russian citizen. Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov said that Putin has no such plan.
, born in 1983, was a former CIA analyst and then worked for a US defense contractor. In 2013, he was wanted by the U.S. government on charges of espionage and theft for exposing the “Prism” and other large-scale secret surveillance projects of U.S. intelligence agencies. He has taken political asylum in Russia since 2013, and was granted permanent residency in 2020. September 26, 2022 Acquired Russian nationality.