MOSCOW — Russia has given U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden documents to allow him to leave a Moscow airport and enter the rest of the country while his temporary-asylum request is considered, Russian news media reported Wednesday.
This comes eight days after Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia, where the former National Security Agency contractor arrived from Hong Kong after revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media.
Since arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23, Snowden had been unable to leave the airport’s transit area because the United States revoked his passport. He faces espionage charges in the United States.
Last week, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden said he would receive a certificate showing that the asylum request is under consideration, and that certificate would allow him to legally leave the airport’s transit area and enter the rest of the country.
It’s still not clear whether Russia will grant the temporary-asylum request. But if it does, Snowden would be able to live in Russia — and even travel abroad — for at least a year, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said last week.
Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia and FBI agents who work at the U.S. Embassy have no authority to make arrests.