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Edward Snowden, the US former intelligence contractor who has been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than a month, has been granted temporary asylum and finally left the airport Thursday, a Russian lawyer who has been helping the US fugitive said.
Anatoly Kucherena told RIA Novosti he had given Snowden an official document granting one year’s temporary asylum in Russia, allowing him to leave the Sheremetyevo Airport transit zone where he has been staying since arriving in Moscow on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23.
A source at Sheremetyevo confirmed that Snowden had left the airport, with a security official saying he crossed the border into Russia around 3:30 p.m. Moscow time. Kucherena said Snowden left the airport in “an ordinary taxi.”
Snowden is wanted in the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. He applied for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16. Washington has repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request and send him back to the United States to stand trial.