US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport where he has been staying since June after being granted temporary asylum.
He left unobserved after receiving, his lawyer said, the necessary papers to enter Russian territory from Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit zone.
The US has charged Mr Snowden with leaking details of its electronic surveillance programmes.
Russia’s decision is likely to further strain its ties with the US.
A strongly worded US reaction can be expected shortly, as the news sinks in in the US, the BBC’s Daniel Sandford reports from Moscow.
Mr Snowden arrived in Moscow on 23 June from Hong Kong, after making his revelations.
The Snowden affair has caused diplomatic ructions around the world, upsetting the United States’ close allies and traditional enemies.
‘Most pursued man’
Despite the heavy presence of news organisations at the airport, his departure was apparently not spotted by media.
The lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said: “His location is not being made public for security reasons since he is the most pursued man on the planet. He himself will decide where he will go.”
The whistleblowing organisation Wikileaks, which has been helping him since he made his revelations, said in a tweet that he had been given asylum.
“Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year and has now left Moscow airport under the care of Wikileaks’ Sarah Harrison,” it said.
Ms Harrison is a member of the Wikileaks legal team and has been helping Mr Snowden.
Mr Kucherena also said he had been awarded temporary asylum.
US Attorney General Eric Holder has given Moscow an assurance that Mr Snowden will not face the death penalty if extradited, but the Russians say they do not intend to hand him over.