Snowden Granted Temporary Refugee Status in Russia

Russia has granted Edward Snowden, former U.S. intelligence contractor, a one-year asylum in the country. Snowden has since left the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he has been staying since arrived in Russia on June 22, fleeing from the U.S. after leaking sensitive information regarding National Security Agency surveillance operations.

The decision to grant him asylum could cause further tension in Russia-U.S. relations, which have become increasingly frustrated as Russian officials have made it clear throughout the process that they would not extradite Snowden. Despite repeated assurances from both parties that Snowden’s asylum not affect the two countries’ relations, President Obama may cancel a schedule trip to Moscow because of the escalation.

Snowden received temporary refugee status in Russia, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told the New York Times on Thursday. Refugee status allows him to move freely around Russia and is valid for a year.

"In terms of places to live, he will choose himself," Kucherena said an interview on state television. "He can live in a hotel or rent an apartment. Seeing as he is the most wanted person on earth, he today will also be focusing on questions of his own security."