The global cat-and-mouse hunt for Edward Snowden took a dramatic turn yesterday when the man wanted on US espionage charges fled Hong Kong and arrived in Russia, only to have requested for asylum in Ecuador.
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, which says it is now representing Snowden, said he is using Moscow as a transit point to a third country.
That country appears to be Ecaudor, after reports said that the country’s ambassador to Russia had arrived at a hotel near Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Additionally, a car bearing the country’s flag was also seen outside the airport.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on his Twitter feed said that the whistleblower has sought refuge in the country, the same one as Julian Assange has sought asylum in.
Russian police had earlier said they had no plans to detain him upon arrival, after Chinese authorities said he had left Hong Kong legally despite a formal extradition request being lodged by Washington.
Earlier, authorities in Hong Kong said: “Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.”
On Saturday, the White House contacted Hong Kong to try to arrange his extradition.
But the territory’s administration now says the documents submitted by Washington did not ‘fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law’.
As a result, Hong Kong says it requested further information from the US Justice Department.
The statement went on ‘there is no legal basis to restrict Snowden from leaving Hong Kong’, adding Washington has been informed of Hong Kong’s decision.