CNN has confirmed that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport where he had been holed up for weeks.
Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer assisting Snowden with his application for temporary asylum, tells CNN that Snowden has received an approval to that application, giving him permission to leave the airport.
“He has received full approval to stay in this country with the full rights of a Russian citizen for up to one year,” reports CNN’s Phil Black.
His lawyer did not disclose where Snowden is headed. “His lawyer says that they are not divulging that detail yet for security reasons.”
This becomes a setback for the Obama administration, which wanted to get Snowden back to the United States.
“If Snowden is allowed to stay up in Russia for up to a year as Phil has reported, this is going to make it very dicey,” reports CNN’s Barbara Starr.
“So many issues on the table if they let Snowden stay.” The U.S. wants Russian cooperation in Syria, a number of matters in dealing with North Korea and China and with security relationships around the world, Starr reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he doesn’t want to see the Russian-U.S. relationship hindered by the Snowden matter but this new development puts that relationship at risk.
“The White House will have to scramble–the State Department, the Pentagon–and figure out where they go from here in their relationship with Moscow.”
Follow along at CNN.com as the story develops.