MOSCOW - Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. security contractor, left the transit zone at Moscow's international airport Thursday after Russian authorities granted him temporary asylum.
Anatoly Kucherena, an attorney for Snowden, said documents were issued Thursday allowing Snowden to live and work in Russia for up to one year while his application for permanent political asylum is pending. Snowden, 30, had been stranded in Russia's Sheremetyevo Airport for more than five weeks.
"I have just seen him off. He has left for a secure location," Kucherena told the state broadcaster Russia 24.
Kucherena described Snowden as "the most wanted man on the planet" and said he "needed time to adapt to Russian realities."
In Washington, lawmakers reacted furiously to Russia's action, warning of serious repercussions in U.S.-Russian relations.
Snowden left Sheremetyevo in a taxi Thursday afternoon, eluding reporters who have camped at the airport since he arrived June 23 on a flight from Hong Kong.
Kucherena did not reveal where Snowden was bound, saying that although he was ready to provide advice, it was up to his client to decide where to live.
The lawyer said arrangements are being made for Snowden's father to visit him in Russia, the Associated Press reported. In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lon Snowden said he was eager to speak with his son but had refused an FBI offer to fly him to Moscow while his son was trapped at the airport, because U.S. authorities could not guarantee that the two would be able to meet.
"If he comes back to the United States, he is going to be treated horribly," Lon Snowden said. "He is going to be thrown into a hole. He is not going to be allowed to speak."