Edward Snowden departs Hong Kong on flight to Moscow

The NSA whistle-blower is bound for a "democratic nation via a safe route," according to a statement from WikiLeaks

Published June 23, 2013 1:05PM (EDT)

The Hong Kong government confirmed Sunday that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has departed the territory for a "third country." WikiLeaks issued a statement on Sunday saying Snowden 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."

According to a report from a reservations agent at the Russian airline Aeroflot, Snowden is on his way to Moscow, though it appears the capital city may just be a temporary stop en route to his final destination, as the New York Times reports:

The Russian foreign ministry said that Mr. Snowden appeared to be making a connection in Moscow to another destination, but did not say where.

Russia’s Interfax news service, citing a “person familiar with the situation,” reported that Mr. Snowden would remain in transit at an airport in Moscow for “several hours” pending an onward flight to Cuba, and would therefore not formally cross the Russian border or be subject to detention. Someone close to Mr. Snowden later told Interfax that he planned to continue on to Caracas, Venezuela.

“He chose such a complex route in the hope that he will not be detained and he will be able to reach his final destination — Venezuela — unhindered,” the person said.

Snowden's departure from Hong Kong comes just a day after the United States made a formal request for his extradition, but the Hong Kong government concluded that the request “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law." The government also said that because there was not "sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest" there had been "no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong."


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Edward Snowden Nsa Obama Administration Russia Wikileaks