MOSCOW – National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden left the transit zone of a Moscow airport and entered Russia after authorities granted him asylum for one year, his lawyer said today.
Anatoly Kucherena said that Snowden’s whereabouts will be kept secret for security reasons. The former NSA systems analyst was stuck at Moscow‘s Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.
“He now is one of the most sought after men in the world,” Kucherena told reporters at the airport. “The issue of security is very important for him.”
The U.S. has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but President Vladimir Putin dismissed the request.
Edward Snowden plans to seek asylum in Russia, a Parliament member who was among those meeting with the NSA leaker said Friday.
Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters of Snowden’s intentions after he and a dozen other prominent officials and activists met with Snowden in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where Snowden has been marooned since June 23.
Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the airport’s transit zone since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, as he negotiates for asylum in another country.
The activists included Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International’s Russia office, and Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch. Also taken into the meeting room were Russia’s presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, prominent attorney Genri Reznik, and Nikonov.
MOSCOW — Intrigue deepened on Monday over the whereabouts of Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor accused of espionage, when he did not leave Moscow on a planned flight to Havana, one day after Hong Kong frustrated his American pursuers by allowing him to fly out of the territory.
Mr. Snowden’s vacant seat on the Havana flight raised the possibility that the Russian government had detained him, either to consider the demands by the Obama administration to intercept him and return him to the United States or perhaps to question him for Russia’s own purposes.
The authorities in Hong Kong said Mr. Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport that arrived on Sunday afternoon. But he was never photographed in Hong Kong and has not been seen publicly or photographed since his reported arrival in Moscow. Arriving passengers on that flight, interviewed at the airport, said they could not confirm that he had been aboard.
The situation remained infuriating for American officials, who have charged Mr. Snowden with illegally disclosing classified documents about American surveillance programs.