Update: Fugitive U.S. Intelligence Analyst Edward Snowden Leaves Hong Kong

By Newsroom America Staff at 23 Jun 2013

(Newsroom America) -- Former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday on his own accord for a third country "through a lawful and normal channel," according to the Hong Kong government.

US prosecutors had written to the HKSAR Government seeking the extradition of Mr Snowden from Hong Kong after charging him with theft and espionage.

But the government said in a statement issued a short time ago that the United States request "did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law."

It said the United States had been asked for more information to determine whether the request met legal requirements.

"As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong," the government said.

The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's leading English-language daily, reported Mr Snowden was on a commercial flight to Russia.

The newspaper had access to Mr Snowden since June 9, when he revealed himself as the leaker of details of the National Security Agency's clandestine national security electronic surveillance program, PRISM.

It published an interview with Mr Snowden as recently as yesterday which claimed the United States was hacking into China's mobile-phone companies and Internet traffic hubs.

The Post said it had confirmed Edward Snowden had left Hong Kong and was on a commercial flight to Russia, but said this was not his final destination.

Snowden has talked publicly about applying to Iceland for political asylum, with reports also suggesting Ecuador as a possible destination.

WikiLeaks said on Twitter it had "assisted Mr Snowden's political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers ans (sic) safe exit from Hong Kong.

"Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisors," said the Tweets, which did not immediately offer any more information.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, ultimately fearing he will be extradited to the United States.

The Russian embassy in Beijing told the South China Morning Post it would neither confirm nor deny Snowden was on a flight to Moscow.

"It is understood that the 30-year-old boarded the Aeroflot SU213 flight from Chep Lap Kok airport at 11.04am on Sunday morning.

"That flight is scheduled to land at Moscow’s Shermetyevo International Airport at 5.15pm," the newspaper reported.

Read the Hong Kong Government Press Statement


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