MOSCOW -- National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year and left a Moscow airport Thursday to formally enter the country's territory, according to his lawyer.
Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden's legal representative, told RT, a Russian television network, that the papers issued by the Russian Immigration Service allow him to live, work and travel in Russia for a year. It can be renewed annually.
Snowden, who was blocked from travel after the U.S. revoked his passport and issued an international arrest warrant on espionage charges, has been offered permanent asylum by three Latin American countries.
The Associated Press reported that Snowden left Sheremetyevo airport, where he had been holed up since arriving June 23 from Hong Kong.
Kucherena said Snowden left unaccompanied in a regular taxi, although WikiLeaks said Snowden was joined by Sarah Harrison, one of its activists.
"I watched him leave, he went to a safe place," RIA Novosti quoted Kucherena as saying
He said Snowden's whereabouts will be kept secret.
"He is the most wanted person on earth and his security will be a priority," the attorney added. "He will deal with personal security issues and lodging himself. I will just consult him as his lawyer."
Kucherena said the former NSA systems analysts "is ready to talk to press, but he needs a day for adaptation."
The Snowden affair has created diplomatic strains between Moscow and Washington, which has requested his extradition.
The Kremlin has said it will not return Snowden to the U.S., but has gotten assurances from Snowden that he will engage in activities harmful to the United States while he has temporary asylum.
Snowden has been charged under the Espionage Act for leaking information to reporters about the NSA's worldwide surveillance and data-gathering networks.
The 30-year-old former defense contractor has said he did what he believes was right to go public with the information in order to "correct this wrongdoing."
WikiLeaks, then online group that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources, hailed Russia's decision on Twitter.
"We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden," WikiLeaks said. "We have won the battle -- now the war."
Anna Aruntunyan and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY