Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN)–The US State Department has commented on President Vladimir Putin’s granting Russian citizenship to a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, Edward Snowden.
“Our position has not changed. Mr. Snowden must return to the United States where he must face justice as any American,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in his press briefing Monday.
“Perhaps the only thing that has changed is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, it appears that he may now be drafted to fight in the Russian war in Ukraine,” Price added.
Earlier on Monday, Russian President Snowden granted Russian citizenship, according to an official decree published on the Russian government portal on Monday.
Snowden, who has admitted to leaking information about US surveillance programs to the press, has been in Russia since 2013.
He faces charges of espionage in the United States, where a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
In November 2020, Snowden and his wife applied for Russian citizenship. He had already obtained permanent residence in Russia.