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NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Arrives in Moscow

Snowden has arrived in Moscow, with hopes of finding asylum in Ecuador


UPDATE 12 p.m.

Edward Snowden's final stop became clear when Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino took to Twitter to reveal more about the 30-year-old who leaked classified information about two US surveillance programs.

"The Government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. #Snowden," Patino wrote on Twitter.

Paino did not say if Ecuador would honor his request. BBC reported that Snowden was apparently still in the Moscow airport after Patino's tweet.

Ecuador's ambassador to Russia met with Snowden at the Moscow airport.


Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden landed in Moscow Sunday after fleeing Hong Kong, which said that a US extradition request failed to “fully comply with the legal requirements" of the law.

Snowden's final stop remains unclear, with Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Iceland all considered possible destinations for the 30-year-old who leaked classified information about two US surveillance programs.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified source from Aeroflot airlines who said Snowden, traveling with another person with the surname Harrison, had a ticket for a Moscow-Cuba flight. It's possible the second passenger is Sarah Harrison, an adviser to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

Itar-Tass news agency cited an unidentified source claiming Snowden would leave Havana for Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, while other outlets reported Iceland or Ecuador as possible destinations.

Ecuador's embassy has yet to comment on Snowden's travels.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, released a statement explaining why it allowed Snowden to travel, despite the US extradition request:

"Since the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law," and because the government "has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Snowden from leaving Hong Kong," the statement said.

WikiLeaks advertised on its Twitter account that it was involved in Snowden's travels, saying "WikiLeaks has assisted Snowden's political asylum in a more democratic country, travel papers and safe exit from Hong Hong."

The anti-secrecy website did not say to which country Snowden would travel, but in a subsequent tweet the group released the following statement:

FLASH: Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisors.

Legal director for WikiLeaks, Baltasar Garzon, released a statement:

"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Snowden and to Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people."

Spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitri S. Peskov, said the Kremlin was not aware of Snowden's intentions or plans.

"I don’t know if he is coming with a visa or without a visa,” he said. “We are not tracing his movements. I am not sure if he is coming. If he is coming, we will wait and see.”

But Dmitri V. Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told The New York Times that it's likely the Russia is aware Snowden's movements.

“The minute Aeroflot got the information that a certain person by the name of Snowden is about to buy a ticket, this information would be immediately transferred to the quote-unquote competent authorities,” said Trenin.

BBC News reported that Snowden did not obtain a Russian visa, and will stay over in Moscow's airport before flying to Cuba on Monday.

A source from Aeroflot said that from Cuba, Snowden would continue on to Venezuela; both are expected to refuse to comply with an extradition request from the US.

A one-page unsealed complaint against Snowden states the former Booz Allen Hamilton employee has been charged by the US with unauthorized communication of national defense information, the theft of government property, and the willful communication of classified intelligence, all of which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

As news outlets like the Guardian have suggested, Snowden has more classified information to leak, and he is reportedly traveling with four laptop computers full of data he took from the NSA.