MOSCOW (AFP) - A sensationalist Russian news website on Monday published a photograph that it claims is the first to show US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden since he emerged from a Moscow airport in August.
In the blurry image published by Life News, a casually dressed man sporting a goatee with sunglasses perched on his head is pictured pushing a supermarket trolley full of groceries across a road.
A car with partly legible Russian plates and a crossing sign identify the scene as in Russia.
"The photograph was taken in Moscow," said Life News, which is known for its close ties to the Kremlin and security services.
There has been no reported sighting of Mr Snowden since he walked out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on August 1 after obtaining temporary asylum in Russia despite protests from Washington.
The 30-year-old former CIA contractor is wanted by the United States after revealing details of massive surveillance by the National Security Agency to the media.
Mr Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said he is living in a secret location in fear of being tracked down by US law enforcers.
Life News published video extracts from an interview with Kremlin-friendly Kucherena, who refused to confirm that Mr Snowden is living in Moscow.
"Let's take as a starting point that on the photograph that came into your possession you can't see the region or anything, only numbers (on a car number plate)," he said.
The photograph, if genuine, also does not show the bodyguards who Ms Kucherena says accompany Mr Snowden.
It was not clear when the photograph was taken, however it is likely to be several weeks old as it is now autumn in Russia and the picture shows trees covered with green leaves.
Life News, which is the online wing of popular tabloid Tvoi Den, wrote on a Russian social networking page that it paid 100,000 rubles (US$3,900) for the photograph submitted via its website.
Ms Kucherena last month told Itogi weekly magazine that Mr Snowden manages to walk around in disguise.
"He would walk past you and you wouldn't recognise him," he told Itogi.
"It's a question of clothes and small alterations to his appearance... He really does walk freely around on the streets."
Life News pointed out that the man resembling Mr Snowden did not seem to be economising on his supermarket shop, with a trolley containing at least half a dozen bags - despite claims by Ms Kucherena that the American is running out of money.
"As you can see the former special services employee has picked up a full trolley of food according to American tradition. That clearly cost more than one thousand rubles," it wrote.
Ms Kucherena told the website that "(Snowden) is living in quite a poor way as he has practically no money".
The photograph appears to show Mr Snowden breaking Russian law by jaywalking, Life News added, an offence for which he could be fined.
Life News, known for eye-catching scoops, in August published photographs showing Mr Snowden walking out of Sheremetyevo airport with a huge grin on his face.
None of the journalists keeping watch at the airport spotted him at the time and it was not clear how the website obtained the photographs.