Whistleblower Snowden in 'secure location' after leaving Moscow airport
Edward Snowden, who revealed details of secret U.S. surveillance programs, has been awarded Russian asylum for one year, his lawyer said. White House expresses 'extreme disappointment.'
Fugitive former United States security contractor Edward Snowden has left Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and entered Russia, an airport representative said on Thursday.
The White House expressed disappointed in Russia's decision and President Barack Obama may forego an anticipated Moscow summit this fall, the White House said on Thursday.
"We see this as an unfortunate development and we are extremely disappointed by it," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Asked whether Moscow's granting of a year's asylum in Russia to Snowden would affect a decision to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a summit in September, Carney said, "We are evaluating the utility of the summit."
Earlier in the day, Snowden received papers allowing him to leave the transit zone of Moscow airport, where he has spent the past five weeks, and enter Russia. Russian news agency RIA, quoted Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden, as saying that Russia had awarded the 30-year-old temporary asylum status for a year.
"I have just seen him off," Kucherena told state television. "He has left for a secure location ... Security is a very serious matter for him."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden must stop his anti-U.S. activities if he wishes to stay in Russia. Kucherena said that Snowden had accepted that condition.Snowden has not been seen in public since June 23, shortly after he leaked details of secret United States intelligence programs to the media. He is wanted for espionage in the U.S.
He fears the United States will persuade its allies to prevent him using their airspace, or that his plane might be forced down so that he can be taken into custody and extradited.
There has already been diplomatic fallout from Snowden's leaks, which included information that the U.S. National Security Agency bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, although the EU is an ally.
China, Brazil and France have also voiced concern over the spying program.