One month ago, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden arrived in Russia from Hong Kong after leaking numerous secret NSA spy programs to the press. Since then, he’s been confined to the transit zone of the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport as the United States invalidated his passport. Now it appears that may finally be able to leave.
RT reports that Snowden has finally been granted temporary entry into Russia. Sources with knowledge of the situation say that Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, will bring him the papers he needs to leave the airport this morning.
It should be noted that Snowden hasn’t been granted asylum just yet. Instead, he’s only been granted temporary entry into the country while the Russian government considers his asylum request. A final decision will probably be made within three months. After that, Snowden will either be granted asylum, or his request will be rejected. If that happens, he has the option to appeal the decision to the courts.
So, what will Snowden do upon leaving the airport? According to his lawyer, he plans to live and work in Russia for a short time. With his current papers, he can live anywhere in Russia. If he’s granted asylum, he will have all the rights of a Russian citizen and therefore have access to even more resources.
Of course, the U.S. isn’t going to be very happy about this. The Obama administration has made it clear that it wants to bring Snowden home to face charges under the Espionage Act for leaking classified NSA documents. Snowden obviously doesn’t want that as he fears he’ll be subjected to torture and possibly the death penalty if he were to return to the U.S.
For now though, Snowden will remain in Russia and be reasonably safe from the U.S. authorities. Sure, the CIA could capture him in Russia, but doing so would strain the already brittle relationship between Russia and the U.S. In all honesty, Russia is probably the best place for Snowden at the moment as the U.S. will not try anything as long as he stays in the country.