NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Flies to Russia From Hong Kong; UPDATE: Snowden Seeks Asylum in Ecuador; Scheduled for Cuba Flight Monday

Charged by U.S. authorities with espionage, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday and flew to Moscow, although it was not believed Russia would be his final destination.

Snowden is expected to continue on to Cuba and then to Venezuela, the New York Times reported, citing reports by Russian’s Interfax agency.

UPDATE: Snowden, 29, arrived Sunday in Russia aboard an Aeroflot commercial flight shortly after 9 a.m. Eastern time (5 p.m. in Moscow). He had traveled to Hong Kong before the classified documents he stole from the NSA’s Hawaii facility were published by the British Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post.

Snowden, who worked as a computer specialist for the contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, publicly identified himself as the source of the leaks June 9. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Snowden’s flight would likely harm U.S.-Russian relations. It is “almost certain” Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about the fugitive’s plan to fly to Moscow, Schumer told CNN, “and it’s likely he approved it.”

UPDATE II:  The Reuters news agency cited “a source at the Russian airline Aeroflot” as saying Snowden “would fly on within 24 hours to Cuba and then planned to go to Venezuela.”

Moscow airport officials said the flight from Hong Kong had landed but could not immediately confirm Snowden was on board. However, a source at Aeroflot said he had booked a seat on the service.
Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency, had been hiding in Hong Kong since leaking details about U.S. surveillance activities to news media.
A spokesman for the government of Hong Kong, said it had let Snowden depart because a U.S. request to have him arrested did not comply with the law.
The United States wanted him to be extradited to face trial and is likely to be furious about his departure. In Washington, a Justice Department official said it would seek cooperation with countries Snowden may try to go to.

Federal officials Friday charged Snowden with three counts: theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.


UPDATE III: After Snowden left Hong Kong, Wikileaks announced it is assisting the fugitive:

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”.

UPDATE IV: The classified information about U.S. intelligence programs released by Snowden “has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies,” NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. Snowden is “clearly an individual who has betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him,” Alexander told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “This is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent. …  This was an individual with top secret clearance whose duty it was to administer these networks. He betrayed that confidence and stole some of our secrets.”

Alexander defended the NSA surveillance program, saying that U.S. intelligence agencies “failed to connect the dots” before the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “And much of what we’ve done since then were to give us the capabilities … that help us connect the dots.”

Meanwhile, ABC reported that U.S. officials say Snowden’s U.S. passport was revoked Saturday, which should have prevented the accused spy of leaving Hong Kong.

UPDATE V: BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford at the Moscow airport says it now appears that Ecuador, rather than Venezuela, is Snowden’s intended destination. Here is video of ABC’s interview with the NSA director:

UPDATE VI: The BBC reports that Ecuador’s foreign minister has confirmed that Snowden has applied for asylum in that Latin American country. The Guardian reports that Snowden is staying tonight at a hotel inside the Moscow airport and is expected to fly tomorrow to Havana, Cuba.



  1. June 23, 2013  10:32 am by lidsamy Reply

    If I didn't have so mucb Botox I'd look shocked, or perhaps I saw this coming....pretty sure that's it

  2. Pingback : Edward Snowden Makes Some Odd Choices For Someone So Concerned About Liberty | The Lonely Conservative

  3. Pingback : Headline Round-Up: Snowden Flees : The Other McCain

  4. Pingback : Da Tech Guy On DaRadio Blog » Blog Archive » The Flight of Edward Snowden, an exercise in Irony…

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