According to an announcement from the Hong Kong government, PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden, has left Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government resisted pressures from the US to extradite Snowden, saying that “the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law”. They have also requested clarification regarding reports that the US government agencies hacked computer systems in Hong Kong.
Edward Snowden has left with the assistance of Wikileaks. In a statement they said that Snowden, “is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum.” He is being escorted by Wikileaks’ diplomats and legal advisers, who according to legal director Baltasar Garzon, “are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person.”
It has emerged that Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador,as stated in a post on Twitter from the Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. However, the US lawmakers have made it clear that they will exhaust all legal options to bring him back to the United States to face charges of espionage and theft of government property.
After landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday at 17:10 local time, he was picked up by either a Venezuelan or Ecuadorean embassy car. He is reported to have not left the airport but it is not clear where exactly he is. An earlier report claims he has a booked flight bound for Cuba.
The US justice Department has said it will seek cooperation from the relevant government in, in order to secure extradition.
“We will continue to discuss this matter with Hong Kong and pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with other countries where Mr Snowden may be attempting to travel,” Nanda Chitre, a spokeswoman for the justice department said in a statement.
Since Snowden leaked slides from an NSA presentation that detail the PRISM surveillance program, the US government has vehemently denied that the program is scandalous. They have defended the practice of gathering telephone and Internet data from private users around the world. However since the leak from Mr Snowden, General Alexander has said that the spying agency was overhauling its operations in a bid to tighten security and track the actions of system administrators.
[Image via msnbc.com]