After fleeing to Hong Kong in May and then again turning tail for Russia in June, Edward Snowden has been holed up in the neutral-territory transit zone of the Moscow airport for over a month now, waiting to see if he would have the opportunity to flee once more to another potentially friendly country (you know, like freedom-loving Venezuela) or if the Kremlin would decide to grant him his request for political asylum and allow him to leave the airport. They’ve been dithering over the decision, but evidently, they’ve finally been moved to a definite step by granting Snowden a refugee status:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory.

The whistleblower has been granted temporary political asylum in Russia, Snowden’s legal representative Anatoly Kucherena said.

“I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone,” he added.

Snowden has already left the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, an RT crew at the scene has confirmed.

He departed at around 15.30 Moscow time (11.30 GMT), airport sources said. His departure came some 30 minutes before his new refugee status was officially announced.

What’s more, Russia has formally denied the United States’ official extradition request for Snowden; their official reasoning was that “U.S. citizen Edward Snowden cannot be extradited to the United States, because he has not crossed [the border] into Russia, and also because the two countries have no bilateral agreement on extradition.” Now that Snowden has via the Kremlin’s blessing, some of President Obama’s scheduled meetups with his Russian counterpart this fall are definitely going to take a turn for the awkward, if he doesn’t snub them completely.

Incidentally, Edward Snowden’s father believes that Russia has the “strength, resolve and convictions to protect my son.” Er…?

The father of U.S. spy agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has appeared on Russian television for the first time to thank the Kremlin for keeping his son safe.

Lon Snowden told state-owned Rossiya 24 channel: “If it were me, I would stay in Russia and that’s what I hope my son will do.”

“I feel Russia has the strength and resolve and convictions to protect my son,” he added. …

“My son is a principled young man, he is a man of courage and what he saw he couldn’t live with,” he said.

“I know that I have raised him to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing means personal sacrifice, and that’s what he did.”