Russia grants Snowden temporary asylum, angering Washington
Brushing aside pleas and warnings from President Barack Obama and other senior American officials, Russia granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum and allowed him to walk free out of a Moscow airport transit zone on Thursday, ending his legal limbo there after more than five weeks.
Mr. Snowden thanked Russia in a statement issued by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization that has been assisting him. He accused the United States of disregarding the law in its global manhunt to arrest him and said that “in the end, the law is winning.”
Russia’s decision, which infuriated U.S. officials, significantly alters the legal status of Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence analyst wanted by the United States for leaking details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Mr. Snowden now has legal permission to live – and conceivably even work – anywhere in Russia for as long as a year, safely out of the reach of U.S. prosecutors.
Mr. Snowden, 30, departed Sheremetyevo Airport unexpectedly at 3:30 p.m. after his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, delivered to him a passport-like document issued by the Federal Migration Service, valid until July 31, 2014.
Mr. Snowden left the airport’s transit zone alone, an airport official said, but WikiLeaks later announced that he had left accompanied by one of the organization’s representatives, Sarah Harrison, who apparently had remained with him since his flight began in Hong Kong in June.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Russian Federation would take this step,” the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said in Washington. “Obviously, this is not a positive development.” (Source: The Globe & Mail)