(FreedomBeacon.com)- Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, was granted Russian citizenship on Monday, nine years after he first fled from the United States after he leaked classified information about surveillance programs the U.S. government was undertaking.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made Snowden a citizen through a decree he gave on Monday.
Snowden has been living in Moscow for almost 10 years in exile so that he could avoid prosecution in the United States for charges of espionage. He is now living in Russia with Lindsay Mills, his wife, and their two children.
In reacting to that news this week, members of the Biden administration said that Snowden should return to the U.S. so that he could “face justice.”
Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said:
“Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would. Perhaps the only thing that has changed, is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
That last claim is one that Snowden’s legal team is disputing. One of his Russian lawyers, Anatoly Kucherena was quoted in the Sputnik media outlet in Russia saying that Snowden never served in Russia’s army, and as such, he wouldn’t be impacted by the recent “partial mobilization” taken up in the country.
That action, according to the lawyer, only applies to reservists. That being said, there have been many reports of draft notices sent to other young men in Russia who never served.
But, Kucherena said of Snowden:
“He did not serve in the Russian army. Therefore, according to our legislation, he does not fall into this category of citizens, which is now called up. You know that now they are calling up reservists who have served and have the appropriate specialty. And then he will act according to the law, as everything is provided for in Russian legislation.”
Back in 2020, Snowden posted a statement on his verified Twitter account that said he was applying for dual citizenship in Russia, because he was afraid that if he didn’t have citizenship in Russia, he could be separated from his wife and son. Now that he and his wife have two sons, he updated that message by posting a new statement that read:
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS. After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them — and for us all.”
Back in 2019, Snowden had said that he was hoping to ultimately return to the United States, as long as the U.S. government guaranteed that he’d get a fair trial. Early the next year, though, he extended his residency permit request, and then later in the year, applied to become a Russian citizen.