After an uncertain few weeks, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted a year’s asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory. Snowden's legal representative Anatoly Kucherena said, “I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone.”

The lawyer displayed the document to the press, which shows that 30-year-old Snowden is free to stay in Russia until at least July 31, 2014. His asylum status may be extended annually upon request.

Snowden, who had been holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since his arrival into Russia from Hong Kong, departed the terminal around 3:30 pm Moscow time (5 pm IST), sources at the airport told Russian news outlet RT reported. Half an hour later, airport authorities officially announced Snowden’s new refugee status.

A snapshot of the papers that let Snowden pass through immigration

A snapshot of the papers that let Snowden pass through immigration (Image credit: RT)

Due to security reasons, Snowden’s current location has not been revealed and it’s highly unlikely that such information will ever come through to light. Kucherena said, “He is the most wanted person on earth and his security will be a priority. He will deal with personal security issues and lodging himself. I will just consult him as his lawyer.”

The attorney also said that Snowden has plans to reveal more to the media and talk about his situation, but needs a few days to settle in and for privacy after a intense scrutiny over the past few months, since the PRISM expose.

The granting of refugee status to Snowden comes at a time when US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Russian capital. However, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said there has been no intimation of any change of plans from the US side. “We are aware of the atmosphere being created in the US over Snowden, but we didn’t get any signals [indicating a possible cancellation of the visit] from American authorities,” he told RIA Novosti.

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