Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor wanted by the U.S. Department of Justice for espionage, has been granted permission to leave the Moscow airport where he has been holed up since June 23rd, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong. According to multiple outlets, the Russian government is giving Snowden provisional documents needed to travel freely in Russia while his formal request for permanent asylum is reviewed, a process that could take several months.

President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden will be granted asylum if he stops leaking secrets. It goes without saying that any asylum granted to Snowden will, as the AP puts it, "add new tensions to U.S.-Russian relations already strained by criticism of Russia's pressure on opposition groups, Moscow's suspicion of U.S. missile-defense plans and Russia's resistance to sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad."

Since arriving last month, Snowden has been living in a small hotel within the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport and has been legally barred from entering Russian territory. His Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was seen arriving at the airport today. Kucherena tells RT Snowden is "planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in."