WASHINGTON, June 23, 2013 — Edward Snowden, who leaked information on the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, setting off a national uproar and perhaps endangering national security, has fled Hong Kong where he first sought refuge and has now landed in Moscow. He may be headed for Cuba and finally Venezuela.
The former U.S. security contractor left the territory of Hong Kong, despite Washington’s efforts to extradite him to face espionage charges. Hong Kong claims the U.S. paperwork was not in order even as the U.S. was working over the weekend to meet the requirements imposed by Hong Kong, taking the U.S. by surprise at this latest turn of events.
New York Senator Charles Schumer (D) on CNN’s State of the Nation claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had prior knowledge of Snowden’s travel to Russia. “What’s infuriating here is Prime Minister [sic] Putin of Russia aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape. The bottom line is very simple.
“Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran, and now, of course, with Snowden. That’s not how allies should treat one another, and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship.”
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks, which now claims it is representing Snowden, says he is using Russia as a transit point to a third country.
Originally it was thought Snowden might be bound for Iceland, but it now appears he plans to head to Cuba and ultimately Venezuela. WikiLeaks said Snowden was on his way to an unnamed “democratic nation.” However, Aeroflat, the Russian airline Snowden was traveling on, is scheduled to fly within 24 hours to Cuba and then onto Venezuela.
The legal director of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s lawyer, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon says: “Mr. Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr. Snowden arrives at his final destination, his request will be formally processed.
“The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr. Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person.”
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