Could Snowden Be Drafted Into Russian Army After Getting Citizenship?

Former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted Russian citizenship Monday via a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Snowden, 39, sought refuge in Russia after exposing United States government secrets in 2013 regarding domestic and international surveillance operations executed by his agency. In August 2014, he received a three-year residence permit, allowing travel abroad. He was given asylum in Russia in 2020, which granted him permanency residency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agencies that citizenship was granted at Snowden's request, The Moscow Times reported.

Putin's decree came less than one week after he ordered the mobilization of approximately 300,000 men to fight in the war against Ukraine. Snowden's attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden would not be enlisted to fight due to not previously serving in the Russian army.

Edward Snowden Russia Citizenship
Edward Snowden is seen onscreen above while speaking from Russia to an audience on the opening night of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 4, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Snowden citizenship on September 26, 2022. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Peskov made no remarks regarding Snowden joining Russian forces.

Kucherena added that Snowden's wife, Lindsay Mills, is also expected to apply for Russian citizenship. The couple's daughter reportedly already has a Russian passport due to being born in the country.

In 2020, Kucherena said Snowden would extend his stay in Russia an additional three years due to rumors of a potential Trump pardon. But in December 2021, over a year after Trump lost his re-election campaign, Snowden seemed to chastise Trump for not pardoning him. Trump punted on the issue, instead saying he would let the courts decide.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in 2016 that Snowden should be given the death penalty. John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Adviser, said in 2013 that Snowden "ought to swing from a tall oak tree" for treason.

Snowden has remained mostly quiet on social media regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russian conscription first began in 1918 and has increased in recent years, according to Human Rights Watch, as approximately 400,000 young men between the ages of 18 and 27 are drafted annually to serve in the regular army, the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces, as border troops, and in other branches of Russia's armed forces.

Discontent with the conscription process occurred in the mid-1990s, as thousands of Russian men died after being called upon to fight Chechnya.

The Economist reported that in average years, Russian armed forces bring about half of roughly 1.2 million of those men to military recruitment centers, or voyenkomat, during two separate drafting periods. The men are interviewed and undergo physical fitness tests.

About 250,000 recruits are ultimately chosen to serve for 12 months prior to joining the reserves.

Newsweek reached out to Snowden for comment.