Edward Snowden, the man behind a series of leaks that exposed NSA spy programs, is now on the run from the U.S. He was originally lying low in Hong Kong, but now he’s going to try the Wikileaks escape route.
The Guardian reports that Snowden has hopped on a plane from Hong Kong to Moscow. From there, he’s planning on making his way to Ecuador. You may recall that Ecuador had previously granted asylum to Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange.
Before he can get to Ecuador, however, Snowden must be approved for asylum by the government. The country’s foreign minister has received his asylum request, and now he’s reportedly in talks with an Ecuadorian diplomat in the Moscow airport. Assange, who is currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is also petitioning the Ecuadorian government on Snowden’s behalf.
Of course, all of this raises a question – how did Snowden get out of Hong Kong in the first place? The U.S. put in a request to have him returned to the U.S., but that request was denied after it was found that the U.S. “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.”
To add insult to injury, Hong Kong officials did not notify the U.S. that Snowden had left the city for Moscow until five hours after. The reason? Snowden leaked that the U.S. government regularly hacks computer systems in Hong Kong. In its statement, the Hong Kong government says that it has requested “clarification on reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by U.S. government agencies.”
So, where does all of this leave us? Snowden will be holed up inside a Moscow airport for a while until he can figure out a way to leave the country. That’s going to be problematic as his passport was revoked and he does not have a Russian visa. The Russian government may intervene on his behalf, however, as it has indicated that it may offer him asylum itself. He may very well be discussing that right now as his plane to Cuba, and then Ecuador, was found to not have him on it.