August 1, 2013
According to a BBC report, Snowden’s attorney says his client received the papers needed to exit the Sheremetyevo airport into Russian territory, much to the dismay of the U.S. government. He slipped out of the airport unnoticed, despite a mob of journalists awaiting his departure.
Snowden, who’s being accused by the U.S. of leaking details of its electronic surveillance programs, has been granted papers to stay in the country for a one-year period, as well as political asylum for that period of time.
Last week, the Russian government provided opportunity for Snowden to leave the airport as he awaited temporary asylum, reports CNet News.
“In order for Snowden to have safe passage from Russia to one of the South American countries that have offered him full asylum, he needs Russia’s temporary asylum. The U.S. had earlier revoked his passport after charging him with espionage for leaking classified NSA information,” says the report.
The move is being called a “slap in the face” by U.S. Republican Senator John McCain and has caused waves in the U.S.
It’s a “disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States,” he said, as quoted by the BBC. “Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with [President] Putin’s Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for.”
The U.S. government has called for Snowden to be extradited back to his homeland – even guaranteeing that Snowden will be granted full protection of the civil legal system and won’t face the death penalty for his offences. But Russia refuses to hand him over.
Shortly after he left the airport, Snowden issued a bold statement on the Wikileaks website accusing the U.S. government of disrespecting international law.
“Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning,” he said.
Snowden spent more than a month at the airport dodging attempts by the U.S. to have him extradited back to his native country to face espionage charges.
He has since been offered full asylum by Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Although Ecuador has said Snowden must be in “Ecuadorean territory” for the country to process his request, it did indicate he would be welcomed.