Edward Snowden said Russia's decision on Thursday to grant him asylum was a victory for the rule of law, thanking Moscow while accusing the United States of flouting international law.
"Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning," the former U.S. spy agency contractor said in a statement released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
"I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum," he said.
A legal researcher from the group has been helping Snowden try to secure asylum in a safe third country and WikiLeaks said it feared he would not receive a fair trial in the United States.
It said Sarah Harrison, the researcher, had left the airport with Snowden in a taxi for a "secure, confidential place" and that Snowden had the right to live in and travel around Russia for one year.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' founder, said that Russia's decision to grant Snowden temporary asylum was "another victory in the fight against Obama's war on whistleblowers".
"This battle has been won, but the war continues," he said, commending Russia for supporting Snowden at a time when WikiLeaks said many countries had refused to do so for fear of offending the United States.