MOSCOW: National Security Agency leakerEdward Snowden left transit zone of a Moscow airport and entered Russia after authorities granted him temporary asylum, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Anatoly Kucherena said that Snowden’s whereabouts will be kept secret for security reasons. The former NSA systems analyst was stuck at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.
The US has demanded that Russia send Snowdenhome 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.
Guardian newspaper on Wednesday published a new report on US intelligence-gathering based on information from Snowden, but Kucherena said the material was provided before Snowden promised to stop leaking.
Snowden, who revealed details of a US intelligence program to monitor Internet activity, has received offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia and said he would like to visit those countries. However, the logistics of reaching any of those countries are complicated because his US passport has been revoked.
Snowden’s father said in remarks broadcast on Wednesday on Russian television that he would like to visit his son. Kucherena said he is arranging the trip.
The secret-spilling grop WikiLeaks said its legal adviser Sarah Harrison is now with Snowden. The group also praised Russia for providing him shelter.
“We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter. “We have won the battle — now the war.”
The Snowden case has further strained US-Russian ties already tense amid differences over Syria, US criticism of Russia’s human rights record and other issues.
Putin’s foreign affairs aide, Yuri Ushakov, sought on Thursday to downplay the impact this will have on the US-Russia relations.
“This issue isn’t significant enough to have an impact on political relations,” he said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.
He said that the Kremlin hasn’t heard any signal from Washington that Obama could cancel his visit to Moscow ahead of next month’s G-20 summit in St Petersburg.