The statement issued by Hong Kong (to the US) is just remarkable on several levels
2. After hiding out in Hong Kong for two weeks, Edward Snowden, the source behind leaks about top-secret government surveillance programs, boarded a plane for Moscow. From there, he’s expected to travel to Ecuador.
3. Snowden’s move comes as the State Department confirmed Saturday they had asked Hong Kong to extradite Snowden so he may face espionage and theft charges in the U.S.
4. A source told The New York Times the government of Hong Kong had been providing Snowden with an apartment.
“For the past week, Mr. Snowden, 30, appears to have been staying in an apartment in Hong Kong’s Western District that is controlled by the Hong Kong government’s security branch, according to a person who has followed the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Snowden appears to have been granted access to the apartment after seeking protection from the Hong Kong police against a possible rendition attempt by the United States, the person said.”
5. Here’s a press release from the government of Hong Kong that Snowden left the city.
6. WikiLeaks claimed they assisted Snowden in leaving Hong Kong and seeking political asylum elsewhere.
8. Journalists camped out at the Moscow airport waiting for Snowden’s arrival.
9. It was originally believed Snowden was trying to get to Venezuela. From the Associated Press:
An Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong believed to be carrying Edward Snowden landed in Moscow. Russia’s state ITAR-Tass news agency cited an unnamed Aeroflot airline official as saying Snowden was on Flight SU213, which landed on Sunday afternoon in Moscow. The report said he intended to fly to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela.
10. The Ecuadorean ambassador told Reuters that Snowden was meeting with him.
11. According to State Department documents, the United States has treaties of extradition with both Ecuador and Venezuela.
12. Ecuador’s foreign minister tweeted, “The government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward Snowden.”
14. The U.S. government has allegedly revoked Snowden’s passport, but that doesn’t mean anything if a country allowed him in.
16. UPDATE - June 24, 12:30 a.m. ET: from NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden
We are disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite the legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement. We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations.
We now understand Mr. Snowden is on Russian soil. Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters — including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government — we expect the Russian Government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.
17. UPDATE - June 24, 8:15 a.m. ET: Snowden Not on Havana-Bound Flight
Various news organizations are reporting Monday that Snowden did not leave Moscow on a flight to Havana.
There was no sign that former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was onboard a Russian plane bound for Cuba as it prepared to take off on Monday, a Reuters correspondent on the plane said.
Doubts are now being raised that Snowden even landed in Moscow at all.
19. Max Seddon, a correspondent for the Associated Press, is one of the many reporters who booked seats on the 12-hour flight believing Snowden would be on board.
21. UPDATE - June 24, 11:30 a.m. ET: Snowden is healthy and safe, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In a conference call with reporters, Assange said he knew where Snowden was but would not offer any further details.
“He is in a safe place,” Assange said. “His spirits are high.”
Assange also confirmed that the WikiLeaks legal team has been helping with Snowden’s asylum applications for Ecuador and Iceland. According to Assange, Snowden was able to fly out of Hong Kong on a “refugee document of passage” from the Ecuadorian government. WikiLeaks funded his travel.
Assange would not say whether the Russian government assisted Snowden when he landed in Moscow. When asked how Snowden successfully left Hong Kong, Assange said: “That is a fascinating story that I’m sure will one day be told. Today is not the day.”
22. UPDATE - June 25, 8:45 a.m. ET: Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Edward Snowden has not entered the country.
This could be tricky phrasing, however, as some reports interpreted Lavrov’s comments to mean that Snowden is still at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
“We are in no way involved with either Mr Snowden, his relations with US justice, nor to his movements around the world,” he said Tuesday. “He chose his itinerary on his own. We learnt about it… from the media. He has not crossed the Russian border.