Russia, Edward Snowden swears allegiance and takes the passport

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Edward Snowden has pledged his allegiance to the Russian Federation in exchange for handing over his passport, which he has been missing for almost 10 years. Nine years have passed since her avalanche of revelations of top secret documents about intrusions into private life by intelligence agencies around the world and his escape abroad. Two years ago he obtained permanent residency in Russia and three months ago he became a Russian citizen. Now the last step for the computer expert and former NSA consultant. On December 1 – but the news leaked the next day – he swore allegiance to Russia. A goal that was probably not what Snowden would have chosen when in 2013 he decided to violate his professional instructions and declassify thousands of top secret documents.

The story

Soon after resigning as NSA contractor in Hawaii, the then 30-year-old Snowden flew to Hong Kong, from where he made his disclosures in late May. Shortly followed by an arrest warrant issued on June 21, 2013 by the US Department of Justice for violation of the law on espionage and theft of government property, Snowden embarked for Moscow: a simple stopover to Cuba and then Ecuador, at the which he wanted to seek asylum. But his journey stopped at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where agents took away his passport, which the US government had meanwhile cancelled. He remained in a sort of limbo for over a month, before the Russian authorities granted him – also in an anti-American function – a residence permit with the right to asylum for a year, which then became two, and so on.

What does Snowden do now

Whether or not it was his new homeland of choice, Russia has become his de facto prison: he has rebuilt his life, conscious of being a pawn in a political game that the war in Ukraine has then intensified. Like Julian Assange, Snowden has become a hero of free information for some, a traitor and a coward for others. And the symbolic battles of him continued. In 2016 he was appointed president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco NGO dedicated to protecting freedom of speech and the protection of journalists. In 2019, he presented his autobiographical book Permenent Record online, which shaped his revelations about covert surveillance and individual freedom, published by New York-based Metropolitan Books. As an aspiring Russian citizen, he continued to work in IT and married Lindsay Mills with whom he had two children. In an October 2018 interview, he said: ‘In Russia, I can’t say I’m safe. But the real question is, is this important? I didn’t come forward to be safe. Russia – he said – is not my home. , is my place of exile”.

The revelations that shook the world

The revelations of the ‘whistleblower’ Snowden, who said he had thus finally freed his conscience, after years of fighting for it as an intelligence officer, opened a Pandora’s box on the many and varied facets of global surveillance programs, without national borders. Things that in 2013 were only the subject of conjecture and little or nothing was publicly known about. He brought into play not only the NSA, for which he worked, but also the intelligence alliance of the Five Eyes (between the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) and various telecommunications companies, accused of undue intrusion into lives of people, for lawful and unlawful reasons, in any case without permission. Snowden made his revelations to a pool of journalists and his stories appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post and other newspapers. The number of secret files published remains uncertain, but it is estimated that there are up to 200,000 for the United States alone and more than 1.5 million in total.