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Monday, June 24, 2013

June 23 Updates on Snowden\'s Asylum Pursuit

The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden.Vincent Yu/Associated Press The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden.

Two days after the United States charged him with espionage, Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has admitted to disclosing classified information about the country's government surveillance programs, left Hong Kong and is now seeking asylum in Ecuador, the foreign minister of Ecuador posted on Twitter. As our colleagues Keith Bradsher and Ellen Barry report, Mr. Snowden took a flight to Moscow, where he remained at the airport on Sunday. The Lede will be providing live updates.

8:29 P.M. Ecuador's Foreign Minister Will Face Press Monday

A press conference tomorrow by Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño Aroca, is not about Edward J. Snowden, but about Mr. Patiño's trip to Asia, a spokesman for the foreign ministry has told my colleague William Neuman. He will discuss Mr. Snowden only if he is asked by the pr ess.

The point may seem moot - questions on Mr. Snowden will likely be more frequent than, say, inquiries about Mr. Patiño's favorite restaurants in Hanoi, where the press conference will be held. But perhaps it indicates that the Ecuadorean government is not gathering the press for an official announcement.

In the case of Julian Assange who has taken refuge, from efforts to extradite him to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual abuses, in Ecuador's embassy in London, Ecuadorean lawmakers took a little time to officially approve his request for asylum.

- Ravi Somaiya

7:24 P.M. In Interview, Assange Describes WikiLeaks' Role

O ur colleague Scott Shane interviewed Julian Assange on Sunday about the role that he and other members of the WikiLeaks organization have been playing in Mr. Snowden's departure from Hong Kong.

Mr. Assange, who has resided in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for a year because of his fugitive status, said his group had arranged for Mr. Snowden to travel via a “special refugee travel document” issued by Ecuador last Monday - days before the United States announced the criminal charges against him and revoked his passport. Mr. Assange said he believed that Ecuador was still considering Mr. Snowden's asylum application.

“He left Hong Kong with that document,” Mr. Assange said.

Mr. Assange told Mr. Shane that he had r aised Mr. Snowden's case with Ecuador's foreign minister in a meeting at the embassy last Monday.

Mr. Assange said it was unclear whether Mr. Snowden's passport was revoked before he left Hong Kong. But, he said, Mr. Snowden was informed of the revocation when he landed in Moscow. He said it was uncertain whether and where Mr. Snowden might be able to travel from Moscow using the Ecuadorean document, which he described as a “safe pass.”

“Different airlines have different rules, so it's a technical matter whether they will accept the document,” he said.

He added that the rights of refugees to travel were guaranteed by various international treaties.

Mr. Assange said that when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy to avoid being sent to Sweden for questioning in a sexual offense investigation, Ecuador gave him “initial protection” immediately and followed up two months later with a formal grant of asylum. He suggested that a similar pro cess might be in effect with Mr. Snowden.

Mr. Assange remains in the embassy a year later, since the British authorities have not permitted him to leave without risking arrest and transfer to Sweden. He has said he is concerned less about the inquiry than the possibility that Sweden might subsequently send him to the United States to face possible charges in connection with WikiLeaks' disclosures.

Whether Mr. Snowden could end up in a similar predicament - perhaps accepted by Ecuador or another country but unable to get there - remains to be seen.

- Scott Shane

6:28 P.M. Snowden Is Elusive, Even Within Airport

None of the world's news media, gathered at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, have yet laid eyes on Edward J. Snowden, which has prompted some Kremlinology, my colleague Ellen Barry reports.

The Web portal Gazeta.ru reported that around 1:30 a.m., a light was on at the second floor of the Ecuadorean Embassy, and that security appeared to be heightened.

Russian news outlets have reported that Mr. Snowden will spend the night at a capsule hotel in the airport. Roman Alekseyev, a manager who answered the phone at the hotel on Sunday, said he could not release any information about the report that Mr. Snowden was there. Rooms at the hotel would cost about 5,500 rubles (ab out $170) for a 12-hour stay in a double, he said. Mr. Alekseyev said that because the hotel is in the airport's transit zone, it has a special legal status and is not considered Russian territory.

The latest, unconfirmed reports in the airport also suggested that Mr. Snowden might be in the V.I.P. hall, which is also behind passport control.

- Ravi Somaiya

5:05 P.M. Snowden Shouldn't Be Allowed to Travel, Official Says

A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the United States was advising governments that Mr. Snowden “should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”

“The United States has been in touch via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations. The U.S. is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”

- Steven Lee Myers

4:45 P.M. Lawmakers Threaten ‘Consequences' for Putin

Lawmakers in the United States accused Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, on Sunday of being complicit in Mr. Snowden's decision to fly from Hong Kong to Moscow, and warned of possible harm to relations between the two countries if he was not handed over.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Mr. Putin was “aiding and abetting Snowden's escape.”

“Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran, and now, of course, with Snowden,” Mr. Schumer said on CNN's “State of the Union.” “ That's not how allies should treat one another, and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship.”

Mr. Schumer did not say specifically what those consequences might be. Since Mr. Putin returned to the presidency last year, relations between the United States and Russia have soured significantly, and few new avenues of cooperation have emerged. Moreover, Mr. Putin has accused the United States of supporting his political rivals in Russia, though Washington denies this.

When Mr. Obama entered the presidency, he vowed to hit a “reset” button on relations with Russia in the hopes of turning around years of mutual rancor and suspicion.

Speaking on Fox News on Sunday, Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, suggested that Mr. Snowden's arrival in Russia could snuff out with the last vestiges of those earl y hopes.

“The president should be in contract with Putin saying that this whole reset button with Russia that's off if Putin allows him to leave the country and does not send him back to the United States,” he said.

He added, referring to Mr. Snowden: “This guy is a traitor, he's a defector. He is not a hero.”

Representative Peter T. King speaking about Mr. Snowden on Fox News on Sunday.
3:51 P.M. Russi an Official: Revoked Passport Will Not Stop Travel

Ellen Barry, a Moscow correspondent for The Times, posted a report from Interfax, the Russian news agency, on Twitter that quotes a Russian law enforcement agency official saying Mr. Snowden would not be prevented from leaving Russia because he has no passport.

Obama administration official s confirmed that Mr. Snowden's American passport was revoked Saturday in an effort to prevent him from traveling. It was not clear whether the passport was revoked before he left Hong Kong.

“As is routine and consistent with U.S. regulations, persons with felony arrest warrants are subject to having their passport revoked,” Jennifer R. Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement. “Such a revocation does not affect citizenship status. 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.”

Citing the Privacy Act, Ms. Psaki said she could not specifically discuss Mr. Snowden's passport.

A Russian law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to Interfax, said Mr. Snowden would be allowed to continue on his journey even if the United States authorities had annulled his passport.

< p>If his American passport was really invalidated, “the authorities of that country could give him a refugee document or supply him with Ecuadorean citizenship in a special procedure,” the official said. “With these documents, he could definitely continue his path to Latin America.”

David H. Laufman, a former federal prosecutor, said it appeared that the administration had flubbed Mr. Snowden's case in at least two ways.

“What mystifies me is that the State Department didn't revoke his passport after the charges were filed” on June 14, Mr. Laufman said. “They missed an opportunity to freeze him in place.”

He also said he was puzzled by the decision to unseal the criminal charges on Friday, possibly prompting Mr. Snowden to flee. The standard practice in such cases is to unseal the charges only after the defendant is in custody, he said.

- Ellen Barry, Steven Lee Myers and Scott Shane

3:38 P.M. N.S.A. Chief Says Snowden Caused ‘Irreversible Damage'
Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, on ABC's “This Week.”

In an interview on ABC's “This Week,” Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, accused Mr. Snowden of leaks that have do ne “irreversible damage” to American intelligence efforts against terrorism and other threats.

“This is not an individual who in my opinion was acting with noble intent,” General Alexander said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos.

He said the agency was working on building safeguards against leaks by computer systems administrators, the job that Mr. Snowden held while working for the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at an N.S.A. station in Hawaii. He said the agency had changed passwords and was implementing a “two man rule” to reduce the chance that a lone dissenter like Mr. Snowden could make off with sensitive data.

ABC News provided a rush transcript of the interview.

On the CBS program, “Face the Nation,” Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Commit tee, said she did not believe that Mr. Snowden was a whistle-blower.

“I want to get him caught and brought back for trial,” she said, in part to preclude more disclosures by him. She said intelligence officials had told her that Mr. Snowden “could have over 200 separate items” of classified documents.

- Scott Shane

2:23 P.M. Snowden's WikiLeaks Companion

As Mr. Snowden waits in an airport transit terminal in Moscow, planning his next steps, he is being counseled by a close adviser to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

WikiLeaks said in a statement on Sunday that the adviser, Sarah Harr ison, traveled with Mr. Snowden when he left for Moscow from Hong Kong, where he has resided since first revealing classified documents about United States government surveillance this month.

On Sunday, WikiLeaks said Mr. Snowden was bound for Ecuador from Moscow, and the Ecuadorean ambassador confirmed that he had requested asylum there. Mr. Assange, who has been trying to gain asylum in Ecuador, has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for about a year amid British attempts to extradite him to Sweden.

Ms. Harrison is a British citizen who is working with the WikiLeaks legal defense team, the WikiLeaks statement said. She has also worked at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Center for Investigative Journalism in Britain, the statement said.

In a video from last year, Ms. Harrison is shown announcing the release of a cache of e-mails from high-ranking Syrian government officials obtained by WikiLeaks.

Ms. Harrison discussing Syrian government e-mails.
1:36 P.M. Video of Ecuador Foreign Minister Meeting With Assange
A video showing Ecuador's foreign minister meeting last week with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Britain's Press Association posted a video on YouTube showing Julian Assange meeting last week with Ricardo Patiño Aroca, Ecuador's foreign minister, at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. The report did not say whether Mr. Assange discussed Mr. Snowden's possibly seeking asylum in Ecuador.

On Saturday, Mr. Assange issued a statement, asking for support for Mr. Snowden.

On Sunday, after Mr. Snowden left Hong Kong, Mr. Aroca posted on Twitter that Mr. Snowden was seeking asylum in Ecuador.

1:34 P.M. WikiLeaks Says Snowden Is Bound for Ecuador

WikiLeaks has released a statement saying that Mr. Snowden “is bound for the Republic of Ecuador.”

The statement:

Mr. Edward Snowden, the American whistle-blower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is 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 WikiLeak s.

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.

Former Spanish Judge Mr. Baltasar Garzon, legal director of WikiLeaks and lawyer for Julian Assange, has made the following statement:

“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.”

12:58 P.M. Snowden Has Requested Asylum in Ecuador, Minister Says

On Twitter, Ricardo Patiño Aroca, the foreign minister for Ecuador, posted that Mr. Snowden had submitted a request for asylum.

Earlier on Sunday, the Ecuadorean ambassador arrived at the airport in Moscow and told reporters that he would be meeting with Mr. Snowden.

11:57 A.M. Hong Kong Is Likely to Have Consulted With Beijing

A person knowledgeable about the Hong Kong government's handling of Mr. Snowden said Sunday evening that he was sure that Hong Kong officials had consulted with the Chinese government on how to handle the case. The rough consensus in Beijing is that Mr. Snowden's presence in Hong Kong posed a threat to Chinese-American relations after President Xi Jinping has tried to improve them, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivit ies.

Yet public opinion in Hong Kong and mainland China has made it impossible simply to send him back to the United States, the person said.

“We can't force him to leave, the best we can do is induce him to leave,” said the person, adding that Mr. Snowden had decided to leave on his own.

The basic issue for Beijing was that public opinion in Hong Kong and mainland China was clearly shifting toward protecting him from the United States. Mainland Chinese officials “will be relieved he's gone - the popular sentiment in Hong Kong and China is to protect him because he revealed United States surveillance here, but the governments don't want trouble in the relationship,” the person said.

The result had been a policy driven by expedience, in which Beijing and Hong Kong both wanted Mr. Snowden to leave even though officials in both places deeply and sincerely appreciated what he had done to expose American intelligence activities on their soil. “It may not be the most honorable thing, but it is true,” the person said.

The Hong Kong government was dismayed that the United States chose to include espionage in its charges against Mr. Snowden, because that created clear complications under the bilateral agreement between Hong Kong and the United States for the surrender of fugitives. The agreement specifically excludes the surrender of fugitives from political cases.

“If they really want him back, they wouldn't have put that in - they would have just put that he stole something,” said the person knowledgeable about the government's handling of the case.

Another person in Hong Kong with a deep understanding of Hong Kong's relationship with Beijing agreed that the mainland Chinese government and the Hong Kong government were both hoping Mr. Snowden would leave, although both were reluctant to take any direct action to push him out. “It saved both sides possible embarrassment if he left,” said the second person, who was not involved in the Snowden decision but knew intimately the institutional framework in which the decision was made.

Hong Kong's laws prescribe that the Chinese government control Hong Kong's foreign policy. So no decision to let Mr. Snowden leave would have been made without consulting the Chinese government, said the second person, who also insisted on anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities. “This must have been done in full consultation with Beijing,” the second person said.

By exposing American surveillance in Hong Kong and mainland China, Mr. Snowden has already done much for China, while holding on to him could have created a serious diplomatic problem, the second person said. “Beijing has gotten the most they can out of the Snowden situation,” the second person said.

- Keith Bradsher

11:58 a.m. Russian News: Snowden Checked Into Moscow Airport Hotel

Ellen Barry, our correspondent in Moscow, posted on Twitter a report from Interfax, a Russian news service, that said Mr. Snowden would remain in the airport transit area because he does not have a visa.< /p>

According to the Interfax report, Mr. Snowden will leave Moscow on a plane bound for Cuba, but there were no details about when the plane is supposed to depart.

The next flight to Havana from Moscow is scheduled to leave Monday at 2:05 p.m. Moscow time.

Mr. Snowden had checked into a hotel in Sheremetyevo's Terminal E.

“He cannot leave the terminal because he does not have a Russian visa,” a source told Interfax. The source said that Sarah Harrison, an employee of WikiLeaks who is traveling with Mr. Snowden, has a Russian visa.

Russia Today, Russia's English-language television station, reported that Mr. Snowden had been visited in the airport by officials from the Ecuadorean Embassy, including a doctor.

The Russian news media have reported that Mr. Snowden might ultimately try to fly to Ecuador or Venezuela.

Update: It seems that some officials from the Ecuadorean Embassy have had trouble locating Mr. Snowden.

11:31 A.M. Guardian Columnist: Snowden's Final Destination Unknown

Glenn Greenwald, the columnist for The Guardian who initially broke the news of Mr. Snowden's disclosures, said on NBC's “Meet the Press” that Mr. Snowden's ultimate destin ation was “up in the air.”

“Where he's ultimately headed is unknown,” Mr. Greenwald said. He said that Mr. Snowden was “forced to flee” because the Obama administration “is engaged in an unprecedented war against whistle-blowers.”

Pressed about why the former N.S.A. contractor thought that oversight by Congress and other checks on the agency were inadequate, Mr. Greenwald said Mr. Snowden brought a folder he had labeled “N.S.A. Lying to Congress” to their first meeting. Mr. Greenwald noted that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted that his statement in March to Congress that N.S.A. was not collecting data on millions of America was false.

Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on the same program that it “defies logic” that Mr. Snowden, after criticizing surveillance in the United States, would flee to more authoritarian countries like Cuba, R ussia or Venezuela.

Mr. Rogers said Mr. Greenwald had mischaracterized a still-secret ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as proving that the N.S.A. was violating the law. In fact, he said, the court found that the N.S.A. had “overcollected” information for technical reasons and that the agency had moved to fix the problem.

“This is judicial review, and there was judicial pushback,” Mr. Rogers said. He said Congress, too, was informed of the over-collection, and that those internal checks had worked as designed to keep the agency under tight control.

- Scott Shane

10:53 A.M. Video: ABC News Report of Snowden's Departure
VIDEO: ABC News coverage of Edward J. Snowden's departure from Hong Kong.
10:40 A.M. Hong Kong's Official Statement on Snowden's Exit

The official statement from the Hong Kong government released Sunday announcing Mr. Snowden's departure.

Mr. Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful a nd normal channel.

The U.S. government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr. Snowden. Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the U.S. government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

The HKSAR government has already informed the U.S. government of Mr. Snowden's departure.

Meanwhile, the HKSAR government has formally written to the U.S. government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by U.S. government a gencies. The HKSAR government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

10:52 A.M. Chinese Statement on Reports of U.S. Surveillance

On Sunday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to reports that Edward J. Snowden had left Hong Kong, and voiced “grave concern” about allegations, attributed to Mr. Snowden, that the National Security Agency had hacked Chinese telecommunications systems and a Web site operated by Tsinghua University in Beijing. A spokeswoman said that China had already raised those allegations with the United States.

In a statement on the ministry's Web site, the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said of Mr. Snowden's departure: “We have seen the reports, but still have no understanding of the specific situation and are continuing to monitor developments.”

Ms. Hua did not comment directly on whether the Chinese government had played any role in hastening Mr. Snowden's departure, but she cited the “one country, two systems” principle whereby Beijing gives Hong Kong considerable autonomy to make many of its own administrative decisions.

“The central government has consistently respected the Hong Kong special administrative region government in handling matters according to the law,” she said, referring to the central authorities in Beijing.

In a comment on the reports of American hacking of Chinese Web sites, Ms. Hua said: “We express grave concern about the recently disclosed cases of the U.S. government agency in qu estion engaging in cyber attacks against China, and this again demonstrates that China is a victim of cyber attacks.”

“We have already made representations to the U.S. side about this,” she said.

- Christopher Buckley

10:15 A.M. Senator Warns Russia Not to Harbor Snowden

In Washington, a leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said there would be “consequences” should Russia elect to shelter Mr. Snowden.

“I believe he hurt our nation, he compromised our national security program,” Mr. Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The freedom trail is not exactly China-Russia-Cuba-Venezuela, so I hope we'll chase him to the ends of the Earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there'll be consequences if they harbor this guy.”

“If they want to be part of the world community, the W.T.O., they want a good relationship with the United States, they should hold this fellow and send him back home for justice,” he said, referring to the World Trade Organization.

Russia joined the W.T.O. two years ago after nearly two decades of talk over its rights practices and trade restrictions.

Another Republican senator, Mike Lee of Utah, also questioned Mr. Snowden's possible choice of destinations. “Mr. Snowden is delusional,” he said on Fox, “if he thinks that he's going to find a country with a better human rights record in Moscow or in Havana or in Caracas, and I think he's in for a rude awakening if that's what he's got in mind.”

- Brian Knowlton

10:09 A.M. U.S. Dept. of Justice Statement on Snowden

Nanda Chitre, a Justice Department spokeswoman, on Sunday confirmed that Mr. Snowden had left Hong Kong.

“As we stated yesterday, the United States had contacted authorities in Hong Kong to seek the extradition of Mr. Snowden, based on the criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, and in accordance with the U.S.-Hong Kong Agreement for the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders,” she said. “We have been informed by the Hong Kong authorities Mr. Snowden has departed Hong Kong for a third country. We will continue to discuss this matter with Hong Kong and pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with oth er countries where Mr. Snowden may be attempting to travel.”

- Charles Savage

9:54 A.M. Video of WikiLeaks Adviser, Sarah Harrison

Mr. Snowden is said to be assisted by Sarah Harrison, who was an adviser to Julian Assange when WikiLeaks released the diplomatic cables three years ago. The WikiLeaks organization said that Ms. Harrison “has courageously assisted Mr. Snowden with his lawful departure from Hong Kong and is accompanying Mr. Snowden in his passage to safety.”

She can be seen in this YouTube video giving a talk about Syria at the Frontline Club in Britain last year.

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Sarah Harrison speaking last May at a conference about Syria.
10:05 A.M. Black Car Reportedly Picks Up Snowden
Video of flight from Hong Kong to Moscow with Mr. Snowden landing on Sunday.

Witnesses aboard a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow believed to be carrying Mr. Snowden said a black car pulled up beside the plane after it landed in Russia. Russia Today, Russia's English-language television station, later reported that the car belonged to the embassy of Ecuador, though the Interfax news service, citing anonymous sources, reported that representatives from Venezuela met Mr. Snowden after he left the plane. No witnesses have reported seeing Mr. Snowden on the flight or in the airport in Moscow.

9:52 A.M. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange Statements on Snowden

In a statement, the WikiLeaks organization said that Mr. Snowden had requested that WikiLeaks “use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety.”

Mr. Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr. Snowden arrives at his final destination his request will be formally processed.

Former Spanish Judge Mr. Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Julian Assange, has made the following statement:

“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.”

The organization also published a statement by its founder, Julian Assange, on Mr. Snowden's behalf, that was made Saturday. The statement said the United States government's decision to charge Mr. Snowden was intended “to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.”

“That tactic must not be allowed to work,” it said. “The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.”

Our colleagues, Ms. Barry and Mr. Bradsher, report that sources said Mr. Snowden's goal was to travel to Venezuela.

9:50 A.M. WikiLeaks Assists and Live Tweets Snowden's Exit

Mr. Snowden's exit from Hong Kong on a Moscow-bound airliner, was assisted and live tweeted by people affiliated with WikiLeaks, the organization that released extensive classified American diplomatic communications three years ago. On Twitter, the group posted Sunday that it was assisting Mr. Snowden.

9:27 A.M. Snowden Arrives in Moscow

Russian officials have confirmed that a plane believed to be carrying Edward J. Snowden, who departed Hong Kong on Sunday, has landed in Moscow.

It is not clear how long Mr. Snowden will remain in Russia. Russia's Interfax news agency, citing a source wi th the Russian carrier Aeroflot, reported earlier that he would fly from Moscow via Havana to Caracas, Venezuela. This has not been officially confirmed.