National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport he's been staying in for over the last month.
Snowden's attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, told the BBC on Thursday that his client received the papers required for his safe passage into Russian territory. The attorney also presented to the media a scanned copy of Snowden's papers, allowing him to stay in the country for a period of one year. The attorney said that Snowden has been granted political asylum for that period of time, according to the Russia Times.
Since the end of June, Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, effectively outside the reach of any government.
Last week,the opportunity to leave the airport as he awaited a temporary asylum ruling. In order for Snowden to have safe passage from Russia to one of the South American countries that have offered him full asylum, he needs Russia's temporary asylum. The U.S. had earlier revoked his passport after charging him with espionage for leaking classified NSA information.
The U.S. government has been pushing Russia to extradite Snowden and has gone as far as telling the Russian government that he will not face the possibility of the death penalty, and will be given the full protection of the civil legal system. So far, however, that hasn't been enough for Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. The Russian government continues to say that it has never extradited someone to the U.S., and it won't start with Snowden.
As of this writing, Snowden's whereabouts are unknown to media on the ground in Russia. He apparently left the airport at 2 p.m. local time and wasn't spotted leaving. It's likely that Snowden will stay in Russia for some time before he attempts to leave for South America.
WikiLeaks, which has supported Snowden's efforts, chimed in on his temporary asylum, noting in a tweet that "we have won the battle -- now the war."
We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle--now the war.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 1, 2013
This story has been updated throughout the morning with additional information.