NSA whistleblower Snowden granted asylum in Russia - for one year
Snowden quietly slips away from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport to begin exile
Leaving his safe haven for several weeks, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden quietly slipped away from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after being granted temporary asylum in Russia. Snowden has spent nearly a month evading U.S. authorities.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was then forced to hunker down between the runway and passport control, which Russia considers neutral territory.
Snowden has been highly successful in avoiding journalists, which had camped out in the hopes of snapping a current photograph of him. Snowden managed to give them the slip again, as he left in a taxi without being spotted.
The incident has strained the already contentious relations between Russia and the United States. A Kremlin official says that the international relations would not suffer from what he called a "relatively insignificant" case.
Snowden's new document, which is similar to a Russian passport, appeared on Russian TV. The document reveals that he has been granted asylum for a year from July 31.
"He is the most wanted man on planet Earth. What do you think he is going to do? He has to think about his personal security. I cannot tell you where he is going," Snowden's Russian attorney Kucherena told reporters.
"I put him in a taxi 15 to 20 minutes ago and gave him his certificate on getting refugee status in the Russian Federation," he said. "He can live wherever he wants in Russia. It's his personal choice."
Snowden had his U.S. passport revoked by Washington after he fled to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23. He was not going to stay at an embassy in Moscow, although three Latin American countries have offered to shelter him.
The 30-year-old Snowden was accompanied by Sarah Harrison, a representative of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
"We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle - now the war," WikiLeaks said on Twitter.
Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela had offered Snowden refuge -- but there are no direct commercial flights to Latin America from Moscow. Snowden had been concerned the U.S. would intercept his flight to prevent him reaching a new destination.
Snowden was then forced to hunker down between the runway and passport control, which Russia considers neutral territory. Kucherena says that he had given Snowden Russian books to help pass the time and says he has started learning Russian.
The White House is very nonplussed by the situation; President Barack Obama might consider boycotting a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in early September over the Snowden case.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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