NSA whistleblower heads to Moscow after espionage charges from the US
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has flown from Hong Kong to Moscow after facing espionage charges from the US government. Despite facing charges of espionage, Snowden reportedly travelled “through a lawful and normal channel”.
Snowden’s move contradicts his previous statements on his movements as the whistleblower had previously confirmed plans to stay and fight for his freedom. Unexpectedly, however, Mr Snowden opted to leave Hong Kong and landed in Moscow at 17:00 MSK (13:00 GMT).
Washington had made several attempts to arrange an extradition whilst Snowden was in Hong Kong but it is thought that the documents submitted did not comply with Hong Kong’s legal criteria.
In a statement, Hong Kong confirmed: “As the HKSAR Government has yet to receive sufficient information for the provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong also expressed concern surrounding the allegations that the US had conducted cyber-surveillance operations in Hong Kong itself, as Snowden had previously revealed.
“The [Hong Kong] 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 statement continued: “The [Hong Kong] government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.”
As for Snowden, it is unknown whether or not he intends to make a request for asylum in Russia, a request that Russia would “consider” according to President Putin’s spokesperson.
Snowden has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence and information, and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Each of the charges carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.