Russia continues in defiance of American interests. It granted citizenship this week to former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. He fled prosecution after revealing highly classified U.S. surveillance programs to capture communications and data from around the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday that listed Snowden as one of 75 foreign citizens listed as being granted Russian citizenship.
Snowden fled from America in 2013 and was granted permanent Russian residency in 2020. He said at that time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, but he did not renounce his U.S. citizenship.
This has certainly not helped the relational dynamics between Washington and Moscow. They are at their lowest point in decades after Putin decided to launch what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Snowden, who is 39, is thought of by some as a righteous whistleblower who wanted to protect American civil liberties. But the U.S. intelligence officials have accused him of putting U.S. personnel at risk for their lives and also of damaging national security.
Snowden currently faces charges in America that could put him in prison for decades.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said this week that the government’s position has not changed. “Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would,” Price said.
The joke may be on Snowden. He is now a citizen in Russia just as Moscow is mobilizing reservists to go fight in Ukraine. In Russia, just about every male under 65 is considered to be a reservist. And officials have made it clear that men with dual citizenship are eligible for military mobilization.
Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, doesn’t believe he is eligible because he has never served in the Russian military. Having experience in the military has been the main criterion for the call-up thus far.
Kucherena told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden’s wife, Lindsay Mills, will be applying for a Russian passport. She has been living with Snowden and they had a child at the end of 2020.
Snowden usually keeps a low profile, but he has said on social media that he was willing to return to the U.S. if he guaranteed a fair trial. He has not commented on being granted citizenship.