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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden requests asylum in Equador - will he make it?


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Edward Snowden asks Ecuador for asylum


Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents revealing US internet and phone surveillance, has asked Ecuador for asylum.


The request was confirmed by Ecuador's foreign minister on Twitter. Mr Snowden had fled the US for Hong Kong but flew out on Sunday morning and is currently in Moscow. The US wanted him extradited, but the Hong Kong government said Washington had failed to meet its requirements.


Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, who is in Vietnam, said on Twitter: "The Government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. #Snowden."


The announcement came after the Ecuadorian ambassador to Russia told reporters he would meet Mr Snowden and a representative from Wikileaks for talks on Sunday. Mr Snowden arrived on Aeroflot flight SU213 and landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport at 17:10 local time (13:10 GMT). He was picked up at the airport by either a Venezuelan or Ecuadorean embassy car.


A source at the airline company was quoted earlier as saying that Mr Snowden would fly on to Cuba. It is unclear where Mr Snowden currently is, but he is reported to have not left the airport.



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Snowden arrives in Russia, reportedly en route to Venezuela


Former US spy Edward Snowden on Sunday arrived in Russia from Hong Kong, reportedly on his way to Venezuela, escaping the clutches of US justice after leaking sensational details of cyber-espionage by Washington.


Snowden, the target of a US arrest warrant issued Friday after he blew the lid on massive secret surveillance programmes, arrived in Moscow on a direct flight operated by Russian flag carrier Aeroflot.


The Hong Kong government said earlier it had "no legal basis" to prevent Snowden leaving because the US government had failed to provide enough information to justify its provisional arrest warrant for the former


National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. Snowden, 30, landed at Sheremetyevo airport in the north of Moscow at 5:05 pm (1305 GMT) but there was no immediate official confirmation of where he would head next, an AFP correspondent at the airport said.


Russian official media quoted airport officials as saying that Snowden was on the plane. The website of WikiLeaks, which says it aided his exit, said Snowden was on his way to asylum in a "democratic nation". Russian media reports cited sources within Aeroflot as saying he would fly to Cuba on Monday and then travel on to the Venezuelan capital Caracas.


Snowden did not emerge into the terminal public area along with other passengers on the flight and his fellow travellers raised the possibility he may have been whisked away in a car directly from the airport tarmac.


"They were getting luggage straight from the plane into the car. It seemed a little strange. I saw three pieces of luggage," Aeroflot passenger Jason Stephens from the United States told AFP.


A source at Sheremetyevo told Interfax that "transit passenger" Snowden was still at the airport. "His next flight is to Cuba, he is on the territory of the airport complex where he has to be."


AFP correspondents also said they saw a diplomatic car at VIP arrivals with the flag of Ecuador, the country whose embassy in London is hosting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to prevent his extradition to Sweden. A source quoted by RT television said Snowden was examined by an Ecuadorian embassy doctor at Moscow airport upon his arrival.


WikiLeaks claimed credit for helping to arrange asylum for the man behind one of the most significant security breaches in US history. "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," it said without revealing his final destination.


Wikileaks confirmed that Snowden was accompanied by a British citizen named Sarah Harrison, whom it described as a "journalist, and legal researcher" working with the WikiLeaks legal team.


Snowden's latest interview on Sunday contained new revelations about US cyber-espionage against Chinese targets, drawing a stinging response from China's official news agency Xinhua which branded Washington an espionage "villain".



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Whistleblower Snowden 'Not On Cuba Flight'


A flight from Moscow to Cuba that whistleblower Edward Snowden was expected to be on has left the Russian capital apparently without him.


The Havana-bound Aeroflot plane was set to be the next step on his journey to evade US justice as he seeks asylum in Ecuador.


He was reportedly checked-in for the flight but a security source told Russian news agency Interfax that he was not on board.


Washington had urged Russia to do all it could to expel the former CIA intelligence analyst and send him to the US before he got the chance to take the expected flight to Havana.


Aeroflot said Snowden, 30, had registered for the flight using his passport, despite efforts by America to prosecute him for allegedly revealing highly classified government secrets.


He was allowed to leave Hong Kong on Sunday despite his passport being revoked and Washington asking the Chinese territory to arrest him for extradition on spying charges in the US.


The US state department has said the American should now not be allowed to travel any further and his departure from Hong Kong threatened to strain diplomatic relations between the US and Russia and China.


It added it was disappointed by the territory's "troubling" failure to arrest the analyst, who was hiding there after apparently leaking information about monitoring by the National Security Agency to The Guardian and The Washington Post.


There is also growing anger in America over Russia's decision to allow him access to the country.


Secretary of State John Kerry said the US does not know Mr Snowden's intended travel destination, adding he would be deeply troubled if China and Russia had prior notice of the whistleblower's travel plans.


US Senator Charles Schumer said Russian President Vladimir Putin probably knew of and approved Mr Snowden's flight to Russia, and predicted "serious consequences" for a US-Russian relationship already strained over Syria and human rights issues.


Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said: "I want to get him caught and brought back for trial. I think the chase is on and we'll see what happens."


Russian officials were defiant, saying Moscow had no obligation to co-operate with Washington after it passed the so-called Magnitsky law, which permits visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials accused of human rights violations.


The Kremlin added it was unaware of any contact between Mr Snowden and the Russian authorities.


The debacle is a major embarrassment for President Barack Obama, who has been trying to reset ties with Russia and build a partnership with China.


China said on Sunday it was "gravely concerned" by Mr Snowden's claim that US spies had hacked Chinese IT targets, particularly as the Obama administration has painted the US as a victim of Chinese government computer hacking. Mr Snowden is seeking asylum in Ecuador, which has been sheltering Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, at its London embassy for the past year.


Ecuadorean foreign minister Ricardo Patino said the country was "analysing" his request for asylum, which "has to do with freedom of expression and with the security of citizens around the world".


Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador are all members of the ALBA bloc, an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America that pride themselves on their "anti-imperialist" credentials.


Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, the legal director of WikiLeaks, who is assisting Mr Snowden and is a lawyer for Mr Assange, said: "The WikiLeaks legal team and I are 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."


WikiLeaks said he was being accompanied by Sarah Harrison, whom it described as a UK citizen, journalist and legal researcher.


Mr Snowden claimed the NSA has been keeping details of millions of phone calls by Americans and monitoring the use by foreigners of internet sites including Google, Facebook and Yahoo.


The Hong Kong government said although the US had sought his extradition, the request did not fully comply with requirements and he was therefore free to leave.



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Don't you think he's on Obama's kill list? We're bad about assassinating and/or torturing political enemies.


He has a target on his back, the government just needs to do it as secretly as possible since he gave them a black eye for this type of thing already. It's sad, the guy who blew the whistle on a "free" nation, has to run to China and Russia to protect him from being tortured and killed.

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Why do you think the won't kill him?


If they do lock him up, he'll be tortured and treated inhumanely like they do to many other people like him. If they catch him, "locking him up" would probably be worse than death, given how we treat prisoners now.

yeah, if they'll catch him they will probably throw him into a hole somewhere, after he got a special treatment from them...

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EU concern over Der Spiegel claim of US spying



Edward Snowden is believed to be staying at Moscow's airport


EU concern over Der Spiegel claim of US spying


The head of the European Parliament has demanded "full clarification" from the US over a report that key EU premises in America have been bugged.


Martin Schultz said that if this was true, it would have a "severe impact" on ties between the EU and the US. The report, carried by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, cites a secret 2010 document alleging that the US spied on EU offices in New York and Washington. Fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden leaked the paper, Der Spiegel says.


Mr Snowden - a former contractor for the CIA and also the National Security Agency (NSA) - has since requested asylum in Ecuador. According to the document - which Der Spiegel says comes from the NSA - the agency spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the 27-member bloc's UN office in New York. The document also allegedly referring to the EU as a "target".


It is not known what information US spies might have got, but details of European positions on to trade and military matters would have been useful to those involved in negotiations between Washington and European governments, the BBC's Stephen Evans says.


In a statement on Saturday, Mr Shultz said: "On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations."


Der Spiegel also quotes Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn as saying: "If these reports are true, it's disgusting. The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies."


The US government has so far made no public comments on the Spiegel's report. Mr Snowden is believed to be currently staying at Moscow's airport. He arrived there last weekend from Hong Kong, where he had been staying since he revealed details of top secret US surveillance programmes.


The US has charged him with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence. Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa held a telephone conversation about Mr Snowden's asylum request.


According to Mr Correa, Mr Biden had "passed on a polite request from the United States to reject the request".


The left-wing Ecuadorian leader said his answer was: "Mr vice-president, thanks for calling. We hold the United States in high regard. We did not seek to be in this situation."


If Mr Snowden ever came to "Ecuadoran soil" with his request, he added, "the first people whose opinion we will seek is that of the United States". Quito earlier said it was willing to consider Mr Snowden's request but only when he was physically in the Latin American country.


Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said only that Mr Biden and Mr Correa had held a wide-ranging conversation.



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Edward Snowden 'applies for asylum in Russia'


US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has applied to Russia for political asylum, a Russian official says.


Foreign ministry consul Kim Shevchenko said the request was made on Sunday night. The Kremlin has made no comment. The 30-year-old former CIA analyst is believed to be holed up in a Moscow airport hotel. He is wanted by the US. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow "never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention of doing so".


"If [snowden] wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do so," he told a news conference. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound coming from my lips."


The US has not yet made any comment on the latest developments. President Barack Obama, speaking earlier in Tanzania, said Washington and Moscow had held "high level" discussions about Mr Snowden.


"We don't have an extradition treaty with Russia," he said. "On the other hand, Mr Snowden, we understand, has travelled there without a valid passport and legal papers. And we are hopeful the Russian government makes decisions based on the normal procedures regarding international travel and the normal interactions law enforcement have."


Some Russian politicians and human rights campaigners are publicly backing Mr Snowden's request, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports from Moscow. If it is granted, the US will be furious but President Putin could claim it is simply the will of the Russian people, he adds.


According to Russia's Interfax news agency, Mr Snowden's application for asylum was handed to a consular official at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport late on Sunday evening. The application was delivered by Sarah Harrison, a member of the Wikileaks legal team acting as Mr Snowden's representative, Kim Shevchenko was quoted by the news agency saying.


Russia's Federal Migration Service has denied the reports. The LA Times quoted a Russian foreign ministry official as saying Mr Snowden had applied to 15 countries for asylum. Mr Snowden has reportedly been in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving there from Hong Kong on 23 June.


He flew there soon after revealing himself to be the source behind the leaking of thousands of classified documents showing the extent of US email and telephone surveillance. It was thought he had been seeking asylum in Latin America, possibly Ecuador whose embassy in London is sheltering Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who is also wanted by the US.


Mr Snowden faces charges of espionage in the US. His father, Lon Snowden, in a letter to the attorney general seen by the BBC at the weekend, said he thought his son would return voluntarily to the US if there were "ironclad assurances that his constitutional rights would be honored".


Meanwhile, Washington is facing the fall-out over claims published at the weekend of alleged spying by the US security services on the embassies and missions of its EU allies, including France, Italy and Greece. The European Commission called the claims "disturbing news if proven true" and said it expected "clarity and transparency" about the issue from Washington.


A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "bugging friends is unacceptable... We are no longer in the Cold War".


French President Francois Hollande indicated that a major US-EU trade deal - to be negotiated next week - was under threat unless the US could give a guarantee that its surveillance of the EU had ended. "We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies. We ask that this immediately stop," he told journalists during a visit to western France.


Responding to the claims, President Obama said that all nations with intelligence services tried to understand what other nations were thinking, but that if he wanted to know what a European leader was thinking, he would call that person himself.



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