WikiLeaks: Snowden going to Ecuador to seek asylum (Update 3)

Jun 23, 2013 by Lynn Berry
A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong Sunday, June 23, 2013. The former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has been allowed to leave for a "third country" because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory's government said Sunday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing highly classified surveillance programs, flew to Russia on Sunday and planned to head to Ecuador to seek asylum, the South American country's foreign minister and the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said his government has received a request for asylum from Snowden. WikiLeaks, which is giving Snowden legal assistance, said his asylum request would be formally processed once he arrived in Ecuador, the same country that has already been sheltering the anti-secrecy group's founder Julian Assange in its London embassy.

Snowden arrived in Moscow on an Aeroflot flight shortly after 5 p.m. (1300gmt) Sunday after being allowed to leave Hong Kong, where he had been in hiding for several weeks after he revealed information on the highly classified spy programs.

Snowden was spending the night in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and was booked on an Aeroflot flight to Cuba on Monday, the Russian news agencies ITAR-Tass and Interfax reported, citing unnamed airline officials. Aeroflot has no direct flights from Moscow to Quito, Ecuador; travelers would have to make connections in Paris, Rome or Washington, which could be problematic for Snowden.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks spokesman, told Britain's Sky News that Snowden would be meeting with diplomats from Ecuador in Moscow. WikiLeaks said he was being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from the group.

The car of Ecuador's ambassador to Russia was parked outside the airport in the evening.

Assange, who has spent a year inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sex crime allegations, told the Sydney Morning Herald that WikiLeaks is in a position to help because it has expertise in international asylum and extradition law.

A U.S. official in Washington said Snowden's passport was annulled before he left Hong Kong, which could complicate but not thwart his travel plans. The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to discuss the matter, said that if a senior official in a country or airline ordered it, a country could overlook the withdrawn passport.

While Patino did not say if the asylum request would be accepted, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has shown repeated willingness to irk the U.S. government and he has emerged as one of the leaders of Latin America's leftist bloc, along with Fidel and Raul Castro of Cuba and Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez.

Both the United States and Britain protested his decision to grant asylum to Assange.

Critics have suggested that asylum for Assange might be aimed partly at blunting international criticism of Correa's own tough stance on critics and new restrictions imposed on the news media.

The White House said President Barack Obama has been briefed on Sunday's developments by his national security advisers.

In this June 21, 2013 file photo, a banner supporting Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, is displayed at Central, Hong Kong's business district. The Hong Kong government says Snowden wanted by the U.S. for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has left for a "third country." The South China Morning Post reported Sunday, June 23, 2013 that Snowden was on a plane for Moscow, but that Russia was not his final destination. Snowden has talked of seeking asylum in Iceland. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Snowden's departure came a day after the United States made a formal request for his extradition and gave a pointed warning to Hong Kong against delaying the process of returning him to face trial in America.

The Department of Justice said only that it would "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."

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that Snowden left "on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel."

It acknowledged the U.S. extradition request, but said U.S. documentation did not "fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law." It said additional information was requested from Washington, but since the Hong Kong government "has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong."

The statement said Hong Kong had informed the U.S. of Snowden's departure. It added that it wanted more information about alleged hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by U.S. government agencies which Snowden had revealed.

Hong Kong's decision to let Snowden go on a technicality appears to be a pragmatic move aimed at avoiding a drawn out extradition battle. The action swiftly eliminates a geopolitical headache that could have left Hong Kong facing pressure from both Washington and Beijing.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, has a high degree of autonomy and is granted rights and freedoms not seen on mainland China, but under the city's mini constitution Beijing is allowed to intervene in matters involving defense and diplomatic affairs. Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., but the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political.

Russian officials have given no indication that they have any interest in detaining Snowden or any grounds to do so. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Russia would be willing to consider granting asylum if Snowden were to make such a request. Russia and the United States have no extradition treaty that would oblige Russia to hand over a U.S. citizen at Washington's request.

The Cuban government had no comment on Snowden's movements or reports he might use Havana as a transit point.

Snowden's latest travels came as the South China Morning Post released new allegations from the former NSA contractor that U.S. hacking targets in China included the nation's cellphone companies and two universities hosting extensive Internet traffic hubs.

He told the newspaper that "the NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS data." It added that Snowden said he had documents to support the hacking allegations, but the report did not identify the documents. It said he spoke to the newspaper in a June 12 interview.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China has massive cellphone companies. China Mobile is the world's largest mobile network carrier with 735 million subscribers, followed by China Unicom with 258 million users and China Telecom with 172 million users.

Snowden said Tsinghua University in Beijing and Chinese University in Hong Kong, home of some of the country's major Internet traffic hubs, were targets of extensive hacking by U.S. spies this year. He said the NSA was focusing on so-called "network backbones" in China, through which enormous amounts of Internet data passes.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the reports of Snowden's departure from Hong Kong to Moscow but did not know the specifics. It said the Chinese central government "always respects" Hong Kong's "handling of affairs in accordance with law." The Foreign Ministry also noted that it is "gravely concerned about the recently disclosed cyberattacks by relevant U.S. government agencies against China."

China's state-run media have used Snowden's allegations to poke back at Washington after the U.S. had spent the past several months pressuring China on its international spying operations.

A commentary published Sunday by the official Xinhua News Agency said Snowden's disclosures of U.S. spying activities in China have "put Washington in a really awkward situation."

"Washington should come clean about its record first. It owes ... an explanation to China and other countries it has allegedly spied on," it said. "It has to share with the world the range, extent and intent of its clandestine hacking programs."

Explore further: Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

2.7 /5 (7 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Snowden says US targets included China cell phones

Jun 23, 2013

(AP)—A former National Security Agency contractor says that U.S. hacking targets in China included the nation's mobile-phone companies and two universities hosting extensive Internet traffic hubs in the latest allegations ...

NSA leaker charged with espionage, theft

Jun 22, 2013

The Justice Department has charged former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property in the NSA surveillance case.

Leaker Snowden alleges NSA hacking on China, world

Jun 13, 2013

For months, China has tried to turn the tables on the U.S. to counter accusations that it hacks America's computers and networks. Now, former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden may have handed Beijing ...

US spy programs raise ire both home and abroad

Jun 11, 2013

The Obama administration faced fresh anger Monday at home and abroad over U.S. spy programs that track phone and Internet messages around the world in the hope of thwarting terrorist threats. But a senior ...

China paper hits out at US surveillance programme

Jun 16, 2013

China's official army newspaper on Sunday branded the United States Internet surveillance programme exposed by former spy Edward Snowden as "frightening", and accused the US of being a "habitual offender" ...

Booz Allen says it's fired Snowden after leak

Jun 11, 2013

Edward Snowden, who admitted leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs, was fired by his employer Tuesday while the U.S. government considers criminal charges against him.

Recommended for you

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

4 minutes ago

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

14 hours ago

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

18 hours ago

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

20 hours ago

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

20 hours ago

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

User comments : 24

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
3.1 / 5 (25) Jun 23, 2013
Editors, you might start referring to Snowden as "a whistleblower who reported illegal activities", rather than, "a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs".
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (10) Jun 23, 2013
"Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down it's time to dig another one.

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave." pink floyd

"By the way they runnin', you would swear the law was coming
It's now or never, and tonight it's all or nothing
Momma, Jimmy keeps leaving on us, He said he'd be back
He pinky promised, I don't think he's honest"
-run rabbit run - eminem
Shakescene21
3 / 5 (12) Jun 23, 2013
Snowden is a leaker, not a whistleblower. A whistleblower reports illegal activities, and so far nothing that he has revealed is in violation of US laws. The domestic surveillance activities he has revealed so far are all in compliance with US laws -- most of this activity is secret, and many citizens are unaware of the extent, but it all appears to be within the law. The INTERNATIONAL surveillance activities Snowden has revealed are espionage (or spying) which are usually illegal in the countries being spied upon but are USA-legal activities for the CIA and NSA. It's hypocritical for China and Russia to howl about US spying.
Neinsense99
2.8 / 5 (11) Jun 23, 2013
"The INTERNATIONAL surveillance activities Snowden has revealed are espionage (or spying) which are usually illegal in the countries being spied upon but are USA-legal activities for the CIA and NSA. It's hypocritical for China and Russia to howl about US spying."

It's not just China and Russia, it's also spying upon the activities of one's allies and their citizens.
VendicarE
3 / 5 (8) Jun 23, 2013
Some pretty damn gorgeous women in Moscow.

Good move Snowden.

Oh, and the NSA thing... Good boy.

From what little I know of you, I admire you.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (10) Jun 23, 2013
Canada also relies heavily on US intel and vice versa.
http://www.wilson...da_6.pdf

-But ok next time we let you blow up.

-And the Feikling is going to Ecuador where the women are short and stubby. No matter, he dies like Trotsky.
deepsand
3 / 5 (14) Jun 24, 2013
"The INTERNATIONAL surveillance activities Snowden has revealed are espionage (or spying) which are usually illegal in the countries being spied upon but are USA-legal activities for the CIA and NSA. It's hypocritical for China and Russia to howl about US spying."

It's not just China and Russia, it's also spying upon the activities of one's allies and their citizens.

As do they.

Even among friendly nations the rule is "Trust, but verify."
VendicarE
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 24, 2013
"Run, rabbit run." - Otto

I prefer Run Devil, Run.

http://www.youtub...fD3nvh-8
VendicarE
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 24, 2013
America is such a free nation that it seeks to imprison a man for telling the truth.

Bahahahahahahah.................

Fascists.
Neinsense99
3 / 5 (8) Jun 24, 2013
Canada also relies heavily on US intel and vice versa.
http://www.wilson...da_6.pdf

-But ok next time we let you blow up.

-And the Feikling is going to Ecuador where the women are short and stubby. No matter, he dies like Trotsky.

You've been meeting the wrong Latinas, it would seem...
alfie_null
5 / 5 (5) Jun 24, 2013
One irony of this situation: whatever country Snowden ends up in, it's likely that country's respect for the rights of its citizens will be worse than that of the United States. He will accept sanctuary in some country with that understanding. And he will say nothing about it.
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 24, 2013
"The INTERNATIONAL surveillance activities Snowden has revealed are espionage (or spying) which are usually illegal in the countries being spied upon but are USA-legal activities for the CIA and NSA. It's hypocritical for China and Russia to howl about US spying."

It's not just China and Russia, it's also spying upon the activities of one's allies and their citizens.

As do they.

Even among friendly nations the rule is "Trust, but verify."

Now, if you would apply that to your AGW Alarmist "scientists", you would not be so ignorant.
I noticed no comment on the Latinas from deepsand, because he's into wood and peckers.
PeterParker
3 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2013
PeterParker
3.3 / 5 (12) Jun 24, 2013
"Now, if you would apply that to your AGW Alarmist "scientists", you would not be so ignorant." - Anti-Gore-Tard

Verification is what peer review is all about.

I note that NONE of your Moronic denialist claims stand up to trivial inspection, let alone peer review.

You poor Retard.
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (15) Jun 25, 2013
"The INTERNATIONAL surveillance activities Snowden has revealed are espionage (or spying) which are usually illegal in the countries being spied upon but are USA-legal activities for the CIA and NSA. It's hypocritical for China and Russia to howl about US spying."

It's not just China and Russia, it's also spying upon the activities of one's allies and their citizens.

As do they.

Even among friendly nations the rule is "Trust, but verify."

Now, if you would apply that to your AGW Alarmist "scientists", you would not be so ignorant.
I noticed no comment on the Latinas from deepsand, because he's into wood and peckers.

You lack the humour to be entertaining, the knowledge to be informative, and have all the charm and attraction of a deceased rat which suffered from leprosy and incontinence.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2013
One irony of this situation: whatever country Snowden ends up in, it's likely that country's respect for the rights of its citizens will be worse than that of the United States. He will accept sanctuary in some country with that understanding. And he will say nothing about it.

I think he knew that beforehand - but he certainly didn't do this for his own benefit.
What he wanted was to make sure the the US does not end up like those other countries - because he loves the US, what it once stood for long ago, and its people.

And no: the government (and the corporations) are NOT 'the people' - even when so democratically elected. The government merely REPRESENTS the people and are charged to serve them. If it acts contrary to the interests of the people then the good of the people must take precedence over the good ofthe government.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (8) Jun 25, 2013
@aa
You're quite a novelist. Have you met this chap? Has he explained to you why he did this? Is it possible he was/is lying?

Has the US or any other country ever had their security compromised by spies for personal gain, glory, insanity or allegiance to a foreign power? And were these compromises costly in terms of money or lives?

These are some of the many questions you need to answer for yourself before you paint your stunted opinions over events which in reality are still a mystery.

The west is at war against religion. It is a war that the west can lose. This spy apparently cares little whether we lose it or not. And I suspect neither do you. I suspect you think there is nothing worth fighting for in this world.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (8) Jun 25, 2013
contrary to the interests of the people
Luckily the vast majority of the people here and in your own country understand the need for secrecy, especially during times of war.

And they also understand that when personal freedoms must be restricted during these times, it is the fault of the ENEMY and not of their govt, for doing so.

Rather, these prudent measures give them confidence that their govt knows how to respond to threat, and how to prevent attacks on it's citizenry.

This program has prevented hundreds of terroritst attacks both here and abroad did you know it? If those attacks had happened, would you have blamed the govt as well?

Of course you would have.
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 25, 2013
"Now, if you would apply that to your AGW Alarmist "scientists", you would not be so ignorant." - Anti-Gore-Tard

Verification is what peer review is all about.

I note that NONE of your Moronic denialist claims stand up to trivial inspection, let alone peer review.

You poor Retard.

An AGW Alarmist turd by another name is still a turd. Right VendicarTurd.
ClimateGate revealed exactly what a farce the AGW Alarmist "scientists" have made peer review. Try again turd.
geokstr
1 / 5 (8) Jun 25, 2013
...Anti-Gore-Tard...Moronic...You poor Retard.

Mr Parker:

I see it didn't take you long after joining to emulate Vendicar(Decarian,A,B,C,D,E...Zz) with the "tard" thing and vile personal attacks on those whose thoughtcrime is to disagree with you. That is, if you're not just one of his sockpuppets, since your style is quite reminiscent of his.

Please be advised that I am reporting every comment of yours which is a personal attack on another commenter. Eventually, when it gets tiresome, I'll use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page to describe your viciousness to the moderators in detail. I encourage all other commenters fed up with this to do the same. This is poisoning this site

Of course, this does not result in capital punishment, as Vendicar frequently wishes on millions of others for having opinions different than his own. When you get banned, you can just do as he does and change a letter in your sig and continue to infest this site.

Have a nice day.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (10) Jun 25, 2013
Free Bradley Manning.
deepsand
3 / 5 (10) Jun 26, 2013
"Now, if you would apply that to your AGW Alarmist "scientists", you would not be so ignorant." - Anti-Gore-Tard

Verification is what peer review is all about.

I note that NONE of your Moronic denialist claims stand up to trivial inspection, let alone peer review.

You poor Retard.

An AGW Alarmist turd by another name is still a turd. Right VendicarTurd.
ClimateGate revealed exactly what a farce the AGW Alarmist "scientists" have made peer review. Try again turd.

You lack the humour to be entertaining, the knowledge to be informative, and have all the charm and attraction of a deceased rat which suffered from leprosy and incontinence.
dtxx
1 / 5 (5) Jun 26, 2013
The real question here, which I have not seen anyone address - what about certificates? Are the CAs such as VeriSign party to this? Does MS provide PRISM backdoors to self-signed certificates created with its server OSes? What about encryption technologies other than SSL? What is the involvement of companies like RSA? ArcFour will be sunsetting sooner rather than later. What are the obligations to the NSA of companies developing new ciphers?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 26, 2013
Free Bradley Manning.
-And send him to Afghanistan to atone for his sins. Aw he'd just defect anyway. Or get hisself fragged.