Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked details of the government's PRISM surveillance program, has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport for the first time in over a month, reports The Wall Street Journal. Snowden's lawyer says that the temporary asylum will last for one year and allow Snowden to live freely in the country and he will be eligible to renew it for further one-year periods if he so chooses. The BBC confirms the news, also citing statements from Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena. "I already escorted him out of the airport into a taxi," Snowden's lawyer told the WSJ, but declined to say where he was heading.
This comes after weeks of speculation and posturing about Snowden's final destination. The US government has been pressuring Russia to extradite Snowden back to his home country to face prosecution since he revealed his identity in early June. Most recently, the US told Russia that the country wouldn't seek the death penalty in its case against Snowden, but it looks like the Russia has decided to risk angering the US by allowing the whistleblower to walk free.
Update: The US is now on record with a response to Snowden's newfound asylum, with White House spokesman Jay Carney saying the Obama administration is "extremely disappointed" with Russia's decision. The offering of asylum stands to damage an already rocky relationship between the two countries; Carney hinted that the US may call off a summit with Russia that's currently scheduled for September. "We are evaluating the utility of a summit in light of this," he said.