Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor on the lam in Russia after disclosing secrets about U.S.
surveillance programs, has been given a document that allows him to legally leave the transit zone of a Moscow airport and enter the country.
Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week after his attempts to leave the Sheremetyevo airport and fly out of Russia were thwarted.
Snowden is believed to have been staying at the airport transit zone since June 23, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.
Prosecutors charged Snowden last month with espionage and theft of government property.
On Monday, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow demanded Russia turn over Snowden.
“Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the felony charges against him,” Ambassador Michael McFaul said via Twitter.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed security official on Wednesday as saying that Snowden has been issued documents, allowing him to formally enter Russia.
Anna Zakharenkova, a spokeswoman for the airport, told The Associated Press that Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer advising Snowden, would meet with Snowden.
President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden can be granted asylum in Russia only if he stops leaking secrets.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Migration Service told the AP they had no information about the status of Snowden's application for asylum.
Granting Snowden asylum would 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.