Snowden granted one year's temporary asylum in Russia

Moscow, August 2 (IANS) Fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has received temporary asylum in Russia for one year, and has moved to a safe place, said a lawyer assisting him.

"I have just delivered documents to him (Snowden) from the Russian Federal Migrant Service (FMS)," Xinhua quoted lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as telling the Interfax news agency.

Kucherena said the documents allowed Snowden to move freely within Russia.

The former intelligence contractor had left the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport for a location that would not be disclosed.

"I hope you will treat this vague information with understanding ... the safety issue is a very serious one for him," the lawyer said.

The FMS confirmed the granting of asylum.

"One of the district subdivisions of the Federal Migration Service Department for the Moscow region has decided to grant Mr. Snowden the status of temporary asylum," FMS spokesperson Zalina Kornilova said.

She added that the Snowden case was "nothing special".

"I emphasise that this is not a unique case, so, over a thousand people applied to district subdivisions in 2013 alone, so far," Kornilova said.

Snowden's whereabouts after leaving the transit zone remain a mystery, Xinhua said.

Kucherena said Snowden would choose where he lived. "He can either live in a hotel or rent a flat," he said.

The lawyer said currently, Snowden had no "immediate plan" to fly to Latin America, but the former spy agency contractor would stay in touch with his family.

"I am finishing paperwork on the invitation to his father. He will come and we will be able to discuss all issues personally," the lawyer said.

On Wednesday, Snowden's father Lon Snowden said in an interview to a Russian news channel that he hoped his son could find protection in Russia.

Snowden arrived at the Sheremetyevo airport June 23, and was reportedly stranded in the transit zone since then as his passport was revoked by the US government. He faces espionage charges for disclosing a classified intelligence surveillance project code-named PRISM.

Calling Snowden "a transit passenger" who arrived in Russia without invitation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said Moscow was not going to harm its relations with Washington, and that Snowden must handle his affairs "without our involvement".

The president said the relationship between Russia and the US "is more important than any intelligence scandal".

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said Thursday Moscow was aware of the atmosphere created in US over Snowden, but he had not received "any signals" regarding the cancellation of US President Barack Obama's visit to Russia in September.

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