Snowden gets travel documents about three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him citizenship, says his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

Snowden says he made disclosures because he believed the US intelligence community had gone too far and infringed on civil liberties.
Snowden says he made disclosures because he believed the US intelligence community had gone too far and infringed on civil liberties. (AFP Archive)

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed the scale of secret surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), has sworn an oath of allegiance to Russia and received a Russian passport, Russian news agency TASS reported.

"Yes, he got [a passport], he took the oath," Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden's lawyer, told TASS.

"This is still a criminal investigative matter," White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday, referring any questions about the report on Snowden to the US Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

US authorities have for years wanted Snowden returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.

President Vladimir Putin in September granted Russian citizenship to Snowden, who fled the United States after leaking secret files that revealed the extensive eavesdropping activities of the United States and its allies.

READ MORE: US whistleblower Snowden granted Russian citizenship

Freedom of movement curbed?

"I'm in Russia because the White House intentionally cancelled my passport to trap me here. They downed the President of Bolivia's diplomatic aircraft to prevent me from leaving, and continue to interfere with my freedom of movement to this day," Snowden, 39, said on Twitter on Friday, referring to events from 2013.

Snowden was referring an incident in July 2013, when Bolivia complained that its presidential jet carrying Evo Morales from Russia to Bolivia had been rerouted and forced to land in Austria over suspicion that Snowden was on board.

Defenders of Snowden hail him as a modern-day dissident for exposing the extent of US spying and alleged violation of privacy. Opponents say he is a traitor who endangered lives by exposing the secret methods that Western spies use to listen in on hostile states and militants. 

READ MORE: The CIA is secretly collecting data on Americans, Senators reveal

Source: Reuters