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Whistleblower slips US grasp as he leaves Moscow for Cuba


NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Reuters/Courtesy of The Guardian

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Reuters/Courtesy of The Guardian

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Reuters/Courtesy of The Guardian

The whistleblower who revealed details of highly classified US surveillance programmes is set to leave Moscow for Cuba, the next step to seeking asylum in Ecuador.

A representative of Aeroflot confirmed that Edward Snowden registered for the Havana flight that leaves Moscow today.

The airline says he registered for the flight yesterday using his US passport, which American officials say has been annulled as part of an effort to prosecute him for revealing government secrets.

Snowden arrived in Moscow yesterday from Hong Kong, where he had been hiding for several weeks. Ecuador's foreign minister said the country is considering his application for asylum.

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks also announced that Edward Snowden "is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks".

The organisation's founder, Julian Assange, was granted asylum by Ecuador last year and has been staying at the country's embassy in the UK.



Mr Snowden had been in hiding in Hong Kong for several weeks after he revealed information on the highly classified spy programmes.

WikiLeaks said it was providing legal help to Mr Snowden

Mr Assange has spent a year inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Edward Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong because a US extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law.

The White House had no comment about the departure.

The Hong Kong government said Snowden left "on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel".

It acknowledged the US extradition request, but said that US documentation did not "fully comply with the requirements under law".

It said additional information was requested from Washington, but since the Hong Kong 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".