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Reuters is reporting that Edward Snowden is en route from Hong Kong to Venezuela via Moscow and Cuba, where he intends to seek temporary asylum in the Latin American country with troubled US relations.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Left Without Any Help from Hong Kong Authorities
US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on a commercial flight to Russia. He left “on his own will” and did not have any help or protection from Hong Kong authorities, a government source told the South China Morning Post.
2. Hong Kong Denied the US’s Request for Extradition
After the US asked Hong Kong to issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government (HKSAR) responded (via CNN):
“Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information,” Hong Kong officials said.
Because Hong Kong didn’t have enough information, “there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong,” the government said.
3. Snowden is Being Charged Under the Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act has been used to charge people in many infamous US court cases. Wikipedia cites:
Among those who have been charged with offenses under the Act are German-American socialist congressman and newspaper editor Victor Berger, former Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society president Joseph Franklin Rutherford, communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, alleged cablegate whistleblower Bradley Manning, and self declared NSA contractor leaker Edward Snowden.
4. Snowden’s Final Destination Might be Ecuador or Iceland
While Iceland refused to comment on rumors that it would grant Snowden asylum, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister is quoted in China Weekly as saying:
“Mr. Snowden may ask the Ecuadorian government for asylum, if he wants, and of course we will examine his request, as we did with Assange (WikiLeaks founder),” Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino was quoted by local media as saying.
Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador are all members of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) bloc, an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America who pride themselves on their “anti-imperialist” credentials.
5. Snowden has Arrived in Moscow
CNN is reporting that Snowden has landed in Moscow. We’ll bring you more as the story breaks.