The Guardian and South China Morning Post report that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot jet heading for Moscow, aiming for Havana, and then, eventually, either Quito, Ecuador, or Havana, Cuba.
The US had asked Hong Kong authorities to arrest Snowden on secret charges (a leak has it that he's been charged with Espionage, Theft, and Converting Government Property). HK says the request was malformed and could not be acted upon.
Why, you may ask yourself, is Snowden going to all these countries that have such rotten human rights records [ed: excepting Ecuador, which has been very good on asylum seekers lately]? My bet is on the fact that these countries are all somewhat hostile to US interest and unlikely to cooperate with extradition requests. However, it's possible that he just wanted the chance to pick out his own bunk at Gitmo ahead of time.
"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 HKSAR government has already informed the US government of Mr Snowden's departure.
"Meanwhile, the HKSAR government has formally written to the US government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."
According to the South China Morning Post, Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, although the newspaper said Russia was not his ultimate destination. It suggested he might go to Ecuador or Iceland – having cited the latter as a possible refuge in an interview with the Guardian.
However, reports from Moscow indicate that Havana would be his next port of call, with the ultimate destination either Caracas in Venezuela or Quito in Ecuador.
The South China Morning Post claimed he took off from the airport at 10.55am on flight SU213 on Sunday morning and was due to arrive at Moscow's Shermetyevo International Airport at 5.15pm [local times].
The Icelandic government has not yet made a statement about whether Snowden could get asylum in Iceland.
Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Moscow [Tania Branigan and Miriam Elder/Guardian]Next post