Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden is learnt to have landed in Moscow on Sunday but not before making more explosive claims about the extent of US’s surveillance and cyber espionage in China.
Snowden has asked for asylum in Ecuador, its foreign minister said Sunday as the ex-NSA contractor seeks to escape US justice for revealing a vast phone and web snooping drive.
Ecuador is led by President Rafael Correa, an outspoken leftist, populist and critic of the US in the mould of his late mentor Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Ecuador has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy for the past year.
Meanwhile, in a statement released by state-run Xinhua news agency, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “We will continue to follow up on relevant development.”
Hua said Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was a society ruled by law. “In line with the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR and the principle of ‘one country, two systems,’ the central government has always respected the Hong Kong SAR government in handling issues in accordance with the law,” she said.
Late Sunday night, reports from Moscow said Snowden had landed in Russia.
Earlier, the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China confirmed that the US whistleblower Snowden had left the region for a third country.
“The government has informed the US government of Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong,” the HKSAR statement, quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency, said.
But Snowden’s parting shot about US cyber espionage is likely to add to the damage to the US. Snowden told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that The Tsinghua University, regarded as among China’s top education institute, was the target of extensive hacking by the US hackers this year. At least 63 computers and servers in Tsinghua University were by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) the report said.
On Saturday, the US formally charged Snowden with espionage, theft of government data and conveying classified information to unauthorised persons.
Following the latest round of claims by Snowden, China on Sunday again asked the US to explain the allegations.
“These are clearly troubling signs. They demonstrate that the US, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber-attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age,” an opinion piece on Xinhua said.