NSA leaker Edward Snowden's long layover appears to be finally over. According to Interfax, Snowden received papers on Thursday that allowed him to finally enter Russia and leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. Crews from RT say that they saw Snowden actually leave. According to his lawyer, Snowden has been granted a temporary, one-year asylum in Russia.
In a brief statement, Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told The Wall Street Journal he "already escorted him out of the airport into a taxi."
And RT has some photo evidence:
Snowden first arrived at the airport on June 23, from Hong Kong. He was originally not planning on spending much time there, but due to the U.S. revoking his passport and no easy way to fly to another country, he wound up stuck. As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange put it to CNN earlier this week:
Mr. Snowden tried to go to South America, and the State Department ... canceled his passport en route. So he was stranded in Russia.
Last week, it looked like Snowden was finally going to receive the papers required for him to enter Russia, only to wind up stuck in a procedural limbo with only a change of clothes and a copy of Crime and Punishment. Snowden's lawyer said last week that Russia is, for now, his final destination.
Snowden first applied for temporary asylum in Russia in July. According to The Wall Street Journal, temporary asylum in Russia is typically renewable in one-year periods. But as we've noted before, life for Snowden doesn't now just get suddenly simple.
In the U.S., responses are already coming in that make it obvious that Snowden's new freedom isn't going to go over too well with everyone: