MOSCOW (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent of covert surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), swore an oath of allegiance to Russia and received a Russian passport, said TASS reported on Friday.
“Yes, he understood [a passport]he was sworn in,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, told the state-run TASS news agency.
“This is still a criminal investigative matter,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday, referring any questions about the Snowden report to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to comment.
US authorities have wanted Snowden to return to the US for years to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
President Vladimir Putin in September granted Russian citizenship to Snowden, who fled the United States after leaking secret files revealing the extensive wiretapping activities of the United States and its allies.
“I’m in Russia because the White House intentionally canceled my passport to trap me here. They shot down the Bolivian president’s diplomatic plane to prevent me from leaving and they continue to interfere with my freedom of movement to this day,” Snowden, 39 years. , he said on Twitter on Friday, referring to the events of 2013.
Snowden was referring to an incident in July 2013 when Bolivia complained that its presidential jet carrying Evo Morales from Russia to Bolivia had been hijacked and forced to land in Austria over suspicions that Snowden was aboard.
Snowden’s defenders hail him as a modern dissident for exposing the extent of US espionage and alleged invasion of privacy. Opponents say he is a traitor who put his life in danger by exposing the covert methods Western spies use to eavesdrop on hostile states and militants.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Sarah N. Lynch, Susan Heavey and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Nick Macfie and Sandra Maler)