Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to Edward J. Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor who publicly disclosed top secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden was one of 75 foreigners granted citizenship by decree.

Snowden in 2013 worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) and publicized details of U.S. and United Kingdom programs capturing communications and data from around the world. That same year he fled to Russia to avoid prosecution in the U.S. where criminal charges are pending. Snowden, 39, applied for Russian citizenship in 2020.

"After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our sons," he posted on Twitter Monday. He has 5.2 million Twitter followers.