The Russian government has granted intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden a residence permit, valid for up to three years from August 1. Snowden previously had been granted a one-year grant of temporary political asylum that expired July 31. Residency status, says Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, allows him to travel freely in Russia, go abroad for not more than three months, and apply for citizenship if he desires. Until now, Snowden has been unable to seek asylum in another country because the U.S. State Department revoked his American passport on June 22, 2013, trapping him in Russia as he was passing through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Patrick Weil, Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School, writes that the State Department’s action violated the U.S. Constitution.
The revocation of Snowden’s passport violates a privilege and immunity of American citizenship, protected by the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment—namely a U.S. citizen’s ability to keep a passport while abroad as a document proving her legal identity and citizenship. This is a function of the U.S. passport that the Supreme Court has recognized since 1835. (Yale Law Journal, Vol. 123)
To date, U.S. officials have escaped accountability for violating Snowden’s Constitutional rights. Related articles: “Snowden in “precarious” position after asylum status expires,” and “Snowden’s asylum set to expire July 31.”