Beyond Moscow: Where Is Edward Snowden Going Next?

The former government contractor left Hong Kong on a one-way flight to Moscow -- with Wikileaks' help -- where he will catch another flight to another "diplomatic" country after Hong Kong announced they were no longer housing Snowden in the early hours of Sunday morning because the U.S. extradition request didn't comply with Hong Kong law. This story is developing and we're providing live updates. 

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Update, 12:44 p.m.: The AFP reports the trip to Havana was red herring! Snowden has actually filed for asylum in Ecuador now:

The Wikileaks connection makes so much sense now.

Update, 12:26 p.m.: Things are getting more and more complicated by the minute for Edward Snowden. Sheremetyevo airport sources have informed Russia's Interfax that Snowden will not be able to leave without a valid visa:

"Snowden cannot be taken out of the airport even in a diplomatic car since he has neither an ordinary, nor a diplomatic visa," he said.

There were some reports saying Snowden would spend the night in the Ecuadorian embassy and never technically be on Russian soil because he would travel by diplomatic car. So this means he will have to spend the night in the airport until his flight to Havana departs.

Wether this affects his plan to leave Russia remains unclear. He now has no visa and no passport. So far as we know, he doesn't have citizenship in another country that would allow him to travel legally. Stay tuned in case Edward Snowden turns into a Tom Hanks character.

Update, 12:06 p.m.: Some curious new details from ABC's Akiko Fujita: apparently Snowden had his passport revoked on June 22 so he should never have been allowed to leave Hong Kong. Also, the U.S. has informed Moscow they would like Snowden deported:

Russian govt notified by embassy in Moscow that Snowden no longer has valid passport & that US "desires to have him deported" via @meekwire

— Akiko Fujita (@AkikoFujita) June 23, 2013

Update, 9:34 a.m.Russia's Interfax reports Snowden has landed in Russia and will spend the intervening hours before his flight to Havana in the airport without ever crossing through border control and therefore he'll remain out of Russian jurisdiction. He's still allegedly heading to Venezuela. At least, that's the plan. But, on the other hand, there's a rising tide of people who think Snowden is really headed for Ecuador because of the Wikileaks involvement. To that end, Ecuadorian diplomats met Snowden at the airport.

Original: Edward Snowden is leaving on a jet plane and doesn't know when he'll be back again, oh no, he's on the go. The former government contractor left Hong Kong on a one-way flight to Moscow -- with Wikileaks' help -- where he will catch another flight to another "diplomatic" country after Hong Kong announced they were no longer housing Snowden in the early hours of Sunday morning because the U.S. extradition request didn't comply with Hong Kong law.

There's a whole lot of conflicting information out there, but this is what we know: The New York Times reports the man who leaked sensitive National Security Agency information is on Aeroflot flight SU213, a one-way trip to Moscow, with one other person, who Wikileaks all but confirmed is Sarah Harrison, one of Julian Assange's closest advisors. He's allegedly scheduled to land in Moscow around 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST) but sources say Snowden is actually already on the ground. Dmitry Peskov, Valdimir Putin's spokesman, said Russia would roll out the red carpet for him last week, should he choose to travel there. But statements from Wikileaks signal that Moscow is only a stop over for Snowden. Assange told the Sunday Morning Herald Post that Wikileaks arranged for Snowden to meet with diplomats from his desired destination, which is, according to Assange, a "democratic country," though he declined to say which one.

Wikileaks released this statement Sunday morning:

He is bound for a democratic nation 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 at his final destination his request will be formally processed.

Hong Kong released a statement Sunday morning announcing they didn't comply with requests to detain Snowden from the U.S. because, well, this is embarrassing. According to Hong Kong, the U.S. didn't fill out the legal forms properly:

Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information ... As 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.

That will certainly warm diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. It also doesn't help that Snowden was reportedly staying in an apartment owned and operated by Hong Kong's security branch to avoid "rendition" by U.S. spies.

Various reports gathered by Reuters are pushing forward the idea that Moscow isn't a be-all-end-all destination for Snowden. It's merely a connecting flight to somewhere smaller, usually warmer, with even fewer diplomatic ties to the U.S.

His rumored destinations are:

  • Cuba
  • Venezuela
  • Ecuador
  • Iceland

So we know the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor is on the way to Moscow. Separate Russian news agencies are reporting Snowden is scheduled to fly from Moscow to Havana, Cuba, where he'll catch another flight to Caracas, Venezuela, his alleged ultimate destination. Reuters is now reporting he'll fly to Havana on Monday before eventually going to Caracas. Snowden originally told The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald that Iceland was his safe-haven of choice all along, despite initially travelling to Hong Kong instead. Now it appears the Wikileaks team has convinced him that Venezuela has a complicated relationship with the U.S. and is much less likely to comply to U.S. pressure. Snowden's been holed up in China since arriving at the end of May, changing hotelsspeaking with local newspapers as recently as the same day he made his request to move to Iceland, but all the while planning what to do next. But now he's on the move, an international jet-setter flying from one country to the next, each with an increasing amount of antagonism towards the U.S. as the last.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.