The Hong Kong government announced Sunday afternoon that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has acknowledged disclosing classified documents about United States government surveillance of Internet and telephone communications around the world.
The government statement said that Hong Kong had informed the United States of Mr. Snowden’s departure.
A Moscow-based reservations agent at Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, said Mr. Snowden was aboard flight SU213 to Moscow, traveling on a one-way ticket to Moscow. The Aeroflot flight landed in Moscow on Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Snowden’s final destination was unclear, but there were signs that it might be beyond Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Snowden appeared to be making a connection in Moscow to another destination, but did not say where.
Russia’s Interfax news service, citing a “person familiar with the situation,” reported that Mr. Snowden would remain in transit at an airport in Moscow for “several hours” pending an onward flight to Cuba, and would therefore not formally cross the Russian border or be subject to detention. Someone close to Mr. Snowden later told Interfax that he planned to continue to Caracas, Venezuela.
“He chose such a complex route in the hope that he will not be detained and he will be able to reach his final destination — Venezuela — unhindered,” the person said.
WikiLeaks, the organization that released extensive classified American diplomatic communications three years ago, said in a statement on its Twitter feed that it had “assisted Mr. Snowden’s political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers” and safe exit from Hong Kong, and said in a follow-up Twitter post that, “Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisers.”
The Aeroflot agent said that Mr. Snowden was traveling with one other person, with the last name Harrison, but the agent declined to release the other traveler’s first name, saying she did not have the authorization to do so. The closest adviser to Julian Assange, who orchestrated the release of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables three years ago, is named Sarah Harrison, prompting speculation that she was the Harrison on the flight with Mr. Snowden.”
– The New York Times, "Snowden Said to Plan Asylum in ‘Democratic Country’"