Update, Sunday 7:41 a.m.: The New York Times reports Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on a one-way flight to Moscow on Sunday morning. We'll have a full, updated post about his travel arrangements within the hour.
Update, 6:10 p.m.: The New York Times' Gerry Mulaney and Scott Shane report Snowden is staying in what is essentially a Hong Kong government safe house:
For the past week, Mr. Snowden, 30, appears to have been staying in an apartment in Hong Kong’s Western District that is controlled by the Hong Kong government’s security branch, according to a person who has followed the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Snowden appears to have been granted access to the apartment after seeking protection from the Hong Kong police against a possible rendition attempt by the United States, the person said.
Just because Snowden is staying in a government safe house, it doesn't mean Snowden is completely safe from being extradited to the U.S. Hong Kong is a special administrative region belonging to China. Hong Kong has a long autonomy leash, yes, but the big red machine handles most of the important decisions. So if China decides to cooperate with the U.S. then Snowden is out of luck, regardless of support from Hong Kong. And White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told CBS News they "expect" China to cooperate.
Original, 11:39 a.m.: The day after the U.S. government filed espionage charges against him, the first step in the process to have him extradited, Edward Snowden has revealed his current location -- to an extent. He is, surprisingly, in the same place he's always been. The South China Morning Post reports Snowden is still in Hong Kong. They don't elaborate where, though. Snowden is in a "safe place," he allegedly told the paper. He hasn't been detained and he's not under police protection. We've been tracking his whereabouts ever since this scandal broke. And, for about the last week or so, we've had no real clue where Snowden was hiding. He could have been anywhere. But now we know where is, and where he's heading.
Snowden has always been open about his eventual goal: he wants to seek asylum in Iceland. And it appears he's been going through the motions to make that happen, potentially with the help of Wikileaks' legal team, but for now he's still in hanging out in Hong Kong. The Justice Department formally filed charges against Snowden and requested Hong Kong authorities detain him on Friday. Those actions were the first two steps in the simple six-step process to have Snowden extradited back to the U.S. Once Snowden is in custody, the government will have 60 days to file and indictment with a Hong Kong court to have him shipped home where he will stand trial.
Of course, there's always a chance China won't go along with that process. "The Global Times, a mainland newspaper controlled by the Communist Party, called an extradition of Mr. Snowden an 'inconceivable option' in a recent commentary," The New York Times reports. China not going along with the west's wishes is something Snowden's been counting on from the beginning. And, hmm, given that Snowden also told the SCMP that the U.S. hacks Chinese mobile companies to access text messages and SMS data, they may not feel inclined to play along. Oh, and some people think he's a Chinese spy. They're silly.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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