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Snowden given temporary asylum, evades press

NSA whistleblower leaves Moscow airport transit area after month-long limbo

Edward Snowden is wanted by US authorities on multiple counts of espionage.
Edward Snowden is wanted by US authorities on multiple counts of espionage.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has departed Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport following an agreement with Russian authorities to grant the US fugitive asylum for a year, effective from July 31, Reuters reported.

Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela have the 30-year-old political sanctuary, but with no direct flights to any of these nations from Russia, Snowden's options became limited.

His Russian lawyer said Snowden had no plans to stay in any embassies now that he is free to move around. In an interview with Reuters, Anatoly Kucherena explained how he helped Snowden evade the press and slip quietly out of the transit area.

"He is the most wanted man on planet Earth," he said. "What do you think he is going to do? He has to think about his personal security. I cannot tell you where he is going.

"I put him in a taxi 15 to 20 minutes ago and gave him his certificate on getting refugee status in the Russian Federation. He can live wherever he wants in Russia. It's his personal choice."

Snowden is wanted by US authorities on a number of espionage charges after leaking details of US intelligence surveillance operations to US, European and Hong Kong newspapers. The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama could consider boycotting a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in early September, in response to the decision to grant Snowden asylum.

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