Edward Snowden is no longer in Hong Kong. About an hour ago, the Hong Kong Authority released a statement which says that the NSA whistleblower has left Hong Kong today "on his own accord through a lawful and normal channel" which was yet another slap in the face of the US, saying the US provisional arrest warrant "did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law."
In fact, not only did the HK authority defy the US arrest warrant, but it officially demands that the US clarify its own hacking of Hong Kong computer systems:
"Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has normally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."
So having been given the blessing of HK (and thus China) to defy the US, Snowden is now en route to Moscow (see flight tracker below), from where he is said he may continue further to Iceland, although according to a conflicting report from Russia's Interfax his ultimate destination is Havana, Cuba, while some note that he may be headed to Caracas Venezuela instead. Of course, he may just remain in Moscow: it's not as if Putin will comply with any American extradition order.
Edward Snowden on the way to Iceland via Russia. Well done Julian & Team.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) June 23, 2013
Somewhat surprisingly, Wikileaks appears directly involved:
FLASH: Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisors.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 23, 2013
The whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked details about US snooping, has left Hong Kong for Russia, according to reports.
His departure was revealed on the website of the Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, which said that Russia was not thought to be his intended final destination.
It is thought that the eventual destination could end up being Iceland or Ecuador.
He is understood to have left on the Russian airline Aeroflot flight SU213.
The paper said it left Hong Kong around 11am local time (4am UK time) and was due to arrive in Moscow around 5.15pm local time (1pm UK time). It is believed to be currently in the air.
The White House had asked Hong Kong to extradite him, after he was charged in the US with espionage.
An Icelandic newspaper reported four days ago that Snowden had asked Iceland for political asylum.
The website of the South China Morning Post said: "US whistleblower Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, credible sources have confirmed to the South China Morning Post.
"Moscow will not be his final destination."
The Hong Kong government later confirmed Snowden had left and said that he did so legally and voluntarily.
"Meanwhile, the HKSAR 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 HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."
The Russian President's office said it has not been given any information about Mr Snowden's imminent arrival.
Track Snowden's flight in real time via Flightradar 24: flight AFL213.