Edward Snowden could be drafted to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine after Putin granted the U.S. whistleblower full Russian citizenship, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.
“Our position has not changed: Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice, as any other American citizen would,” Price told reporters.
“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.”
Snowden, 39, is facing espionage charges that could put him behind bars for up to 30 years in the U.S.
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The former National Security Agency contractor first exposed sweeping surveillance operations by U.S. intelligence agencies in 2013 then fled to Russia, where he was eventually granted asylum.
The revelations were met with praise from civil liberties activists, while other US officials have accused him of damaging national security.
Snowden said that he would apply for Russian citizenship in 2020 after being given permanent residency.
His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the state-owned new outlet RIA Novosti that Snowden won’t be conscripted because he does not have any experience in the Russian military.
Putin originally announced the partial mobilization to conscript about 300,000 Russian men last Wednesday to fight in Ukraine. The order has been met with protests in dozens of cities across Russia.
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