Video arrival in Moscow
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has confirmed that his government “has received an asylum request from Edward J Snowden”.
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange this morning welcomed Educador’s decision to assist Mr Snowden.
“I would urge the Government of Ecuador to accept Ed Snowden’s asylum application,” Mr Assange said by telephone from Ecuador’s embassy in London.
“There is deep irony that the Obama Administration is charging the whistleblower who has revealed worldwide spying with the crime of espionage.
“He is clearly being persecuted by the US government for telling us the truth.”
Mr Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow yesterday accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisers. He was met by Ecuadorean diplomats on his arrival at Moscow airport.
It is expected Mr Snowden will depart Moscow later today to fly to Ecuador with a stop-over at Havana, Cuba. He will travel in the company of Ecuadorean diplomats and the Government of Ecuador has issued with travel documents to ensure his safe passage.
The United States government is demanding that Mr Snowden should “not be allowed to proceed further” overseas.
The US State Department has confirmed that the US revoked Mr Snowden’s passport due to “felony arrest warrants” against the former employee of intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
“Persons wanted on felony charges, such as Mr Snowden, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Mr Assange has confirmed WikiLeaks’ involvement in Mr Snowden’s sudden departure from Hong Kong.
In a statement issued last night WikiLeaks said Mr Snowden was “bound for the Republic of Ecuador 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 in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.
“Owing to our own circumstances, WikiLeaks has developed significant expertise in international asylum and extradition law, associated diplomacy and the practicalities in these matters,” Mr Assange told Fairfax Media.
“I have great personal sympathy for Ed Snowden’s position. WikiLeaks absolutely supports his decision to blow the whistle on the mass surveillance of the world’s population by the US government.”
Mr Assange, who has himself spent a year at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has diplomatic asylum, said that he was “thankful to the countries that have been doing the right thing in these matters. WikiLeaks hopes that Ed Snowden’s rights will be protected, including his right to free communication.”
“I am also thankful and proud of the courage of WikiLeaks’ staff and all those who have assisted his exit from Hong Kong.”
Former Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Mr Assange said WikiLeaks was “interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange – for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest – is an assault against the people”.
Mr Assange also criticised the cancelation of Mr Snowden’s passport, saying it was “a clear abuse of state power to cancel a citizen’s practical national identity when they need it most.
“The Australian government attempted to do this to me under US pressure in December 2020, but fortunately the anger of Australian people and media ultimately prevented the Gillard government from cancelling my Australia passport.”
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Patino visited London last week and held lengthy discussions with Mr Assange at Ecuador’s embassy.
There has been an angry reaction in US government and political circles to news of Mr Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong and arrival in Moscow.
General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency attacked Mr Snowden as “an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent”.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham earlier told Fox News: “I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.”
Congressman and member of the US House of Representatives intelligence committee Peter King said: “I think it is important for the American people to realize that this guy is a traitor, a defector, he’s not a hero.”
The Hong Kong government announced yesterday that Mr Snowden had left the special administrative region of China “on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.”
The Hong Kong government’s statement also said the documents for Mr Snowden’s extradition submitted by Washington “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.”
“As the [Hong Kong] Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for a provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”