Breaking: Russia Grants Snowden 1-Year Asylum

After a month that seemed to almost guarantee a sequel to Tom Hanks's The Terminal, former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, wanted by the United States for leaking details of confidential surveillance programs headed by the NSA, has received temporary asylum in Russia, and has officially left his prolonged sleepover at the airport. 

Snowden's one-year sanctuary in Russia marks the first bit of formal support from another major government since Snowden first left the United States and began leaking details of NSA surveillance of the emails of all Americans, and is a decision sure to elicit strong objections from the U.S. and other supportive nations. 

Until today, Snowden had been seeking refuge in the international transit zone airport, while the Russian Federal Migration Service delayed the processing of his temporary asylum application for longer than the customary week. During the slow process, however, Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, made clear that they had no plan to extradite Snowden to the United States, infuriating the Obama administration and bringing into question why the bureaucratic process of filing the extradition paperwork was taking so long. But paperwork and government bureaucray do not exactly make for an efficient combination.

The blowback is already beginning:Though Mr. Putin has insisted that Snowden's presence in Russia should not cause any strain or tension between the two countries, President Obama has hinted that he may cancel a planned summit meeting in Moscow in September. The State Department has yet to make any formal declaration, though just weeks ago it stated that any allowance for a move outside the airport—which would essentially signal a formal acceptance of Snowden's exile—would be "deeply disappointing."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.