(FILES) This still frame grab recorded on June 6, 2013 and released to AFP on June 10, 2013 shows Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong. Former US intelligence technician Edward Snowden is en route from Hong Kong to Moscow heading to a third destination, the South China Morning Post reported on June 23, 2013. — Photo by AFP
HONG KONG:Unidentified diplomats are escorting former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden in his bid to secure political asylum in a country yet to be disclosed, whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said on Sunday.
“Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
“He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.”
“Snowden today voluntarily left Hong Kong for a third country through legal and normal means,” a Hong Kong government spokesman had said earlier in a press statement.
The statement added that Hong Kong had “not obtained adequate information”to handle a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden issued by the United States.
Moreover Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Sunday that he was unaware of the location or plans of former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The South China Morning Post reported that Snowden had left Hong Kong on a flight for Moscow and that his final destination may be Ecuador or Iceland.
Asked whether Snowden was en route to Moscow and whether he had ask for asylum, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he did not know. A Russian Foreign Ministry official declined immediate comment.
Peskov said earlier this month that Russia would consider granting Snowden asylum if he were to ask for it and pro-Kremlin lawmakers supported the idea, but there has been no indication the fugitive American has done so.
US authorities have charged Snowden with theft of US government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorised person, with the latter two charges falling under the US Espionage Act.
The United States had asked Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, to send him home.
The US administration had filed espionage charges against Edward Snowden.