Former United States intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left the Moscow airport where he has been holed in since last month following his expose of U.S. government snooping activities into people’s online communications.
Other news reports said that Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, confirmed the American had received the required documents for entering Russia from Sheremetyveo Airport’s transit zone. Despite the presence of many reporters, his departure went unnoticed.
Kucherena said Snowden’s location is not being released for security purposes since he is “the most pursued man in the planet.”
Earlier this year, Snowden blew the lid off the NSA’s Prism program which was designed to gather online user data. Following the leak, it was made known that U.S. intelligence agencies are secretly empowered by law to compel American companies to release metadata on customers communications.
The U.S. government has charged Snowden with leaking detail of its electronic surveillance programs. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has given Moscow an assurance that Snowden will not face the death penalty he is extradited.
Russia said they do not intend to hand Snowden over to U.S. authorities.