After nearly six weeks in hiding at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Edward Snowden walked calmly out of the transit area. Since that moment Edward Snowden, the world’s most sought after fugitive, will have his own choice of accommodation and is legally allowed to work in Russia, according to his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.
Kucherena, who has repeatedly spoken on behalf of Snowden, shared that Mr. Snowden can “live in a hotel or rent a flat in Russia,” although personal Snowden’s safety issue is a very serious one for him.
“He has no current plans to leave Russia, and still misses his girlfriend,” the former-FBI contractor’s lawyer said in an interview.
On Thursday Snowden receives his immigration papers from his lawyer and without hesitation got into a taxi a pre-packed suitcase and headed into Moscow.
“Snowden is in a safe place. I didn’t suggest it to him, it was his decision,” Kucherena told Dozhd TV, RIA Novosti reports. “He will decide for himself how to live his life from now on. He has friends with him, including Americans with whom he made contact via his friends from the United States when he was still in the (airport) transit zone.”
The former US citizen has been issued a 12-month residence permit, which can be extended indefinitely. The permit grants Snowden the legal right to travel anywhere in Russia.
Kucherena said that Snowden, who had his luggage pre-packed before he was told he could leave the airport, was “exhausted” and will need “rehabilitation.” The lawyer told Julia Ioffe of The New Republic that Snowden, after receiving the asylum papers. at first didn’t seen to fully understand internally how his life had changed.
“Because he had been waiting for it for so long, he had been so worried,” the lawyer told the magazine. “He said, ‘It can’t be!’ That he wouldn’t believe it ’til he saw the documents. Then, of course, he was happy.”
Snowden has been offered asylum by three Latin American countries – Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua – but has been unable to travel since the U.S. revoked his passport and charged him under the Espionage Act for leaking information to reporters about the NSA’s worldwide surveillance and data-gathering networks.
However, Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has sparked a sharp reaction in the US.
While the White House said the move is “extremely disappointing”, Democrat senator Chuck Schumer said granting asylum to the 30-year-old American fugitive is a “stab in the back”.
As the IBT reports, John McCain, Republican senator and a staunch critic of the Kremlin, said the asylum is “a slap in the face of all Americans”.
Chinese state media have contrasted the Russian government’s “deft” handling of Mr Snowden’s case with the constant “embarrassment” suffered by Washington.
“So far, the US has exhausted its tricks, but there is still no outcome on the extradition of Mr Snowden. It can be described as suffering constant embarrassment in this drama. In contrast, Russia has handled things with ease,” says Xinhua News Agency.
Edward Snowden will be entitled to Russian citizenship after spending five years in the country, though the procedure could take less time, similar to the asylum case of French actor Gerard Depardieu.