Snowden Receives One-Year Asylum in Russia

After spending more than a month in the airport's transit zone, Snowden entered Russia on Thursday.

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National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden left the Moscow airport on Thursday and entered Russia shortly after his lawyer said he had received asylum for one year.

Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA, has been stuck in the transit zone at the airport since he arrived on June 23 from Hong Kong. Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Snowden's location will be kept a secret for security reasons, The Associated Press reported.

[OPINION: Snowden Leaves Moscow Airport Both a Hero and a Traitor]

"He can live wherever he wants in Russia," Kucherena told Reuters. "It's his personal choice."

In June, Snowden began releasing details of a U.S. Internet surveillance program to newspapers. While working at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii, he downloaded the documents and then flew to Hong Kong, where he began disseminating them to media outlets.

Several other countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have offered asylum to Snowden. But accepting those other offers would have been difficult because the United States revoked Snowden's passport once he arrived in Russia.

WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing organization that has been offering Snowden legal counsel, said in a tweet that the fugitive has been granted temporary asylum and is under the care of Sarah Harrison, who has been traveling with Snowden since he left Hong Kong.

"We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden," the organization said in another tweet. "We have won the battle – now the war."

Snowden left the airport at around 2 p.m. local time, an airport spokesperson told BBC.

[VOTE: Should Foreign Countries Provide Asylum to Snowden?]

The United States had been pressuring the Russian government to hand Snowden over to face prosecution, but Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the request and said Snowden could stay in Russia if he stopped leaking information.

Soon after Snowden left Hong Kong, President Barack Obama said he would not be "scrambling jets" to get Snowden. He said Russia and China "should be abiding by international law" and that the U.S. government would continue to press them "as hard as we can to make sure they do so."

The White House has implied that Obama may boycott a planned meeting with Putin in Moscow next month, Reuters reported.

"Our president has ... expressed hope many times that this will not affect the character of our relations," Yuri Ushakov, Putin's top foreign policy adviser, told reporters on Thursday.

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