Edward Snowden has fled Hong Kong for Russia, and will reportedly seek asylum in Latin America. The latest headlines point towards Ecuador as the leaker’s final destination, but he may also be headed to Cuba or Venezuela. To add one more level of intrigue to this already action-movie plot, Snowden has been accompanied by escorts supplied by those other secret-leakers-seeking-asylum-in-Ecuador, Wikileaks.
Wikileaks has been releasing press updates covering the saga, and have also been live-tweeting the whole thing. One of their latest statements reads:
[Snowden] is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.
Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.
Hong Kong authorities have come under fire from the United States for letting Snowden escape. The U.S. revoked his passport and officially filed espionage charges long before Snowden hopped on his flight to Russia, yet Hong Kong authorities did not attempt to stop him. In an official release, the HK government said:
The HKSAR 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. […]
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.
If the United States was expecting to get legal cooperation from Hong Kong, they apparently underestimated how seriously HK would take the hacking news, and overestimated their own influence in the region.
Updates are sure to come, both about Snowden’s escape and about the revelations surrounding the American hacking of Chinese/Hong Kong computers and cellphone data.