Edward Snowden, who has unveiled top-secret National Security Agency documents, has been granted one-year asylum in Russia and is finally allowed to enter the country’s territory, his legal representative Anatoly Kucherena confirmed.
“I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone,” he revealed.
Snowden’s representative also demonstrated a photocopy of the document, signed by Russia’s Federal Migration Agency. According to it, Snowden is free to stay in Russia until at least July 31, 2014.
According to the provided to him status, Snowden cannot be handed over to the US, even if Washington files an official request. The whistleblower can now cross the U.S. territory only voluntarily.
A statement obtained by the WikiLeaks has revealed the words the former NSA contractor said after he was handed the Russian asylum certificate.
“Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning,” the leaker stressed. “I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations.”
As RT reports, Snowden left the place he was hiding for a several weeks at around 15.30 Moscow time (11.30 GMT), airport sourcesrevealed to the media. His departure came some 30 minutes before his new refugee status was officially announced.
His present location will not be disclosed, Kucherena stressed, explaing: “He is the most wanted person on earth and his security will be a priority. He will deal with personal security issues and lodging himself. I will just consult him as his lawyer.”
The NSA leaker eventually intends to talk to the press in Russia, but he will not go public at least for a one day as he needs to have a rest, Kucherena said.
Russia remains confident that its latest move will not affect US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Moscow, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said.
“We are aware of the atmosphere being created in the US over Snowden, but we didn’t get any signals [indicating a possible cancellation of the visit] from American authorities,” he told the media.
Meanwhile, American officials express their opinion regarding the latest news in the Snowden’s case.
“Russia has stabbed us in the back,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “Each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife.”
“He will likely live under very restricted conditions with a lot of surveillance,” suggested Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russian and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “If he steps out of line, Putin will crush him like a bug.”
The world’s most wanted man was initially trying to hide in a Hong Kong hotel when he first went public in May. Despite facing US pressure on both Beijing and local authorities in the former-British colony to hand the NSA contractor over for prosecution, Snowden flew to Moscow on June 23.
At first he intended to stay in the country for a few days, as he wanted to escape to Ecuador via Cuba. However, he was forced to stay at Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit zone after the US government revoked his passport. Without his passport the wistleblower had no right to leave Russia.
After his request has been fullfiled, the American is now thinking of possible securing permanent residency in Russia, where he believed to build a brand new life.