Snowden (39) had fled the US and was given asylum in Russia after he leaked secret files in 2013 that brought to light domestic and international surveillance operations undertaken by the US National Security Agency (NSA), where he was a contractor.
US authorities have for years demanded that Snowden return to the country on the grounds of facing a criminal trial on espionage charges.
He was granted permanent residency in Russia in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his American citizenship.
The whistleblower's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that the former contractor’s wife, Lindsay Mills, an American who has been living with him in Russia, will also be applying for a Russian passport, according to The Washington Post. The couple had a child in December 2020.
In 2019, he said that he was willing to return to the US if he is guaranteed a fair trial. He has kept a low profile in Russia and has occasionally criticised the Russian regime's policies on social media.
Snowden escaped to Hong Kong initially after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii with thousands of classified documents about vast US surveillance programmes.
He initially stayed in a high-end hotel, where he gave an interview to journalists from The Guardian who also published some of the documents.
He then decided to leave the hotel out of safety concerns, and one of his lawyers arranged for him to stay with some of his clients in Hong Kong’s community of refugees and asylum seekers. Facing US espionage charges, he fled about two weeks later to Russia.
(With inputs from The Washington Post.)