Snowden leaves Moscow airport

Former US spy agency contractor's lawyer says the fugitive has been granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year.

    Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked documents about the United States vast spying programme, has left the transit zone of Moscow' airport and entered Russia, his lawyer has said.

    Anatoly Kucherena said on Thursday that Snowden was issued with papers that allowed him to leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he was stuck since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.

    "I have just seen him off. He has left for a secure location," the lawyer said.

    He said that Snowden had been granted temporary asylum to live in Russia for one year.

    "Security is a very serious matter for him," the Russian lawyer said.

    The US has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but President Vladimir Putin dismissed the request.

    Putin had said that Snowden could receive asylum in Russia on condition he stops leaking US secrets. Kucherena has said Snowden accepted the condition, reports Associated Press news agency.

    Snowden had hoped to fly to Latin America, where three countries have offered to shelter him, but was concerned that the United States would prevent him reaching his destination.

    Snowden's case has caused new strains in relations between Russia and the United States which wants him extradited to face espionage charges.

    Senior Kremlin official Yuri Ushakov told reporters that Snowden's case is "too insignificant" to damage US-Russia ties.

    "Our president has ... expressed hope many times that this will not affect the character of our relations," Ushakov said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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