Snowden 'allowed to leave airport'

MOSCOW - Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden will be given an official pass to leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Russian reports say.

Russia's Federal Migration Service is said to have issued a document, which he is due to receive shortly.

He has been staying in transit since arriving from Hong Kong on 23 June.

Wanted by the US authorities for leaking details of government surveillance programmes, he recently requested temporary asylum in Russia.

He could leave the airport's "sterile zone" in the next few hours, a source close to events told Russia's Interfax news agency.

The American will be handed the document by lawyer Anatoly Kucherena and will be provided with new clothing, the source added.
Asylum offers

There was no official comment on news of the pass, which is believed to be an official paper that confirms his asylum application is being considered and allows him to enter Russian territory.

A number of Latin American states say they are willing to offer Mr Snowden asylum, but he says he first needs Russian asylum in order to be able to travel because the US has cancelled his passport.

The US has charged Mr Snowden with leaking classified information.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to hand him to the US authorities, but says he can stay in Russia only if he stops leaking secrets about US surveillance schemes.

Mr Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting Americans' phone records, which civil liberties campaigners say is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

The White House is urging Congress to reject an attempt to end the practice.

Congressman Justin Amash has introduced an amendment to a defence spending bill that would block funding for the controversial programme. A vote is due shortly.

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