NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden asylum in Russia leaves US furious Reuters

Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has sparked a sharp reaction in the US.

While the White House said the move is "extremely disappointing", Democrat senator Chuck Schumer said granting asylum to the 30-year-old American fugitive is a "stab in the back".

John McCain, Republican senator and a staunch critic of the Kremlin, said the asylum is "a slap in the face of all Americans".

"Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin's Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for. We cannot allow today's action by Putin to stand without serious repercussions," said the former presidential contender in a statement.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney hinted that the Russian decision has potentially jeopardised President Barack Obama's scheduled trip to Moscow in early September.

Obama is to hold bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Summit in St Petersburg.

Carney said: "We're extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and in private to have Mr Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him. We're evaluating the utility of a summit in light of this and other issues."

The US and Russia have been at loggerheads on several major issues including the Syrian civil war and Iran's nuclear programme. The latest development over Snowden has further contributed to dampening relations between the two countries.

In more embarrassment to the US, reports speculate that Snowden may consider permanently settling down in Russia despite his original plans to travel to one of the Latin American countries.

An "exhausted" Snowden has no immediate plans to leave the country, said his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

"Snowden can live in a hotel or rent a flat in Russia. But the personal safety issue is a very serious one for him," said Kucherena, who was speaking for Snowden while the whistleblower was holed up at Sheremetyevo airport.

The former CIA employee has a 12-month residenCY permit in Russia which could be extended every year. He could apply for Russian citizenship after five years of stay, but the process could be brought forward by Moscow in exceptional cases.

Snowden has already been offered a high-profile job at Vkontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, hours after he was granted asylum.