Edward Snowden is now a citizen of Russia. After applying for a Russian passport before the birth of his first son in 2020, the US whistleblower was granted one on Monday. According to the 39-year-old former US secret service agent, naturalization means more security: "After two years of waiting and almost ten years in exile, a little stability for my family will make a difference," Snowden wrote on Twitter on Monday . "I pray for privacy for them - and for all of us."
In 2020, Snowden explained his naturalization request by saying he wanted to avoid being separated from his future son if the borders were to close, as was the case during the coronavirus pandemic. "After being separated from our parents for years, my wife and I don't want to be separated from our son," he tweeted at the time. "That's why we're applying for dual US-Russian citizenship during this time of pandemics and closed borders." Snowden also assured that he not only wanted to keep US citizenship, which has been possible in Russia for several years, but also wanted to raise his child according to American values, "including the freedom to speak his mind".
While Snowden is happy about more security, the US State Department sees a completely different possible consequence that the new Russian is now threatened with: conscription into the Russian army. "Our position has not changed: Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice like any other American citizen," Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters about the naturalization message. "Perhaps the only thing that has changed is that because of his Russian citizenship, it appears he can now be drafted to fight in Russia's war in Ukraine."
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists for the war against the neighboring country. The authorities assured that only people with military experience or special skills were affected. In fact, in many cases, the elderly, the sick, men with no experience and students were also conscripted.
So far, Snowden has largely refrained from making statements about Russia's invasion of Ukraine on social media. In 2013, the IT expert published thousands of top-secret documents about the surveillance and espionage practices of the US secret services. He then went into hiding and fled to Russia, where he has lived ever since. In the US, he faces a long prison sentence, among other things, for espionage.
Sources: Edward Snowden on Twitter, Fox News, Deutschlandfunk