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Snowden in Moscow Sunday; Asks for Asylum in Ecuador

China: US 'has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age'

- Craig Brown, staff writer

UPDATE 12:45 pm EDT: Ecuador's foreign has tweeted that Edward Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador:

 

 

WikiLeaks has just released a new statement:

Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.

Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.

Former Spanish Judge Mr Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Julian Assange has made the following statement:

"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people."

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower sought by US authorities on espionage charges, departed the Chinese territory by commercial airliner on Sunday morning local time and is en route to Moscow, the South China Morning Post reported.

Russia will not be his eventual destination, the report said. The paper quoted Hong Kong's government as saying the 30-year-old left "of his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel".

Snowden is reported to be on Aeroflot flight SU23, scheduled to arrive in Moscow at 5.15pm local time (2.15pm BST).

Russian news agencies Interfax and Itar-Tass reported Snowden is booked on a flight from Moscow to Cuba on Monday. Itar-Tass said Snowden would fly from Havana to Caracas, Venezuela.

Journalists show an iPad with the picture of Edward Snowden to passengers of a flight from Hong Kong trying to find out if Snowden was aboard the plane, in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, June 23, 2013. Reporters at Sheremetyevo international airport said there was no immediate sign of Snowden, who is charged by Washington with espionage, but Russian media suggested he may have been whisked away by car to a foreign embassy in Moscow. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

 

 

Wikileaks has issued the following statement early Sunday morning:

Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.

Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives at his final destination his request will be formally processed.

Former Spanish Judge Mr Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Julian Assange has made the following statement:

"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people".

Earlier, the Hong Kong government put out the following statement:

The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. 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.

In a commentary yesterday, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported that Snowden’s revelations demonstrate that the U.S. “has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age.”

"These, along with previous allegations, are clearly troubling signs. They demonstrate that the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age."

"At the moment, Washington is busy with a legal process of extraditing whistleblower Snowden."

"But for other countries, Washington should come clean about its record first. It owes too an explanation to China and other countries it has allegedly spied on. It has to share with the world the range, extent and intent of its clandestine hacking programs."