After living in Russia for years to avoid prosecution in the U.S., former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden said he wants to obtain Russian citizenship for a very personal reason.

In a thread posted to Twitter, Snowden said he and his wife, Lindsay Mills, who is expecting their first child, would like to raise their son according to “all the values of the America we love - including the freedom to speak his mind.”

“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son,” Snowden said Sunday. “That's why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we're applying for dual US-Russian citizenship.”

Snowden recently received approval for a permanent residency permit in Russia, CNN reports. On Twitter, he said he will maintain his U.S. citizenship as he hopes of returning to the country one day.

Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, fled to Russia in 2013 after releasing thousands of classified documents to the press related to the agency’s surveillance programs, including surveillance against U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in September that the programs outlined in some of Snowden’s files violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and potentially the U.S. Constitution.

Court filing related to the U.S. government’s case against him reveals Snowden has received more than $1.2 million in speaking fees since he fled from the U.S.

Snowden, who revealed in 2013 that the US government was spying on its citizens, has been living in exile in Russia since the revelations Snowden, who revealed in 2013 that the US government was spying on its citizens, has been living in exile in Russia since the revelations Photo: dpa / Jörg Carstensen