Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about
the country’s surveillance programs, left Hong Kong Sunday to a third country. Snowden is seeking asylum in Ecuador, according to the Ecuadorean foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño Aroca.
Hong Kong says that Snowden left “on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.”
WikiLeaks said in a Twitter message Sunday that Snowden “is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisors.” The whistle-blower site has assisted Snowden’s political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers, and safe exit from Hong Kong, it said in another message.
US lawmakers are already reacting harshly to news of Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong. This morning on Meet The Press, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R, MI) said that Snowden’s alleged choice to fly to Cuba and Venezuela undermines his whistleblower claims, and that the government must exhaust all legal options to bring him back to the US, Reuters reports.
NSA Director Keith Alexander, appearing this morning on ABC’s This Week, criticized Snowden, saying that he’s “clearly an individual who’s betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him.” Alexander said that “this is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble
Meanwhile the Hong Kong special administrative region has also asked for clarification from the U.S. on
earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by U.S. government agencies. The government said it will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong. Snowden told the Post that the U.S. is hacking Chinese mobile phones companies to steal text messages, the newspaper reported Sunday. He had earlier alleged that the NSA had snooped on targets in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland, according to the newspaper.