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 (SCMP) reported on Sunday.
“US whistleblower Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, credible sources have confirmed to the South China Morning Post,” the newspaper, which has carried exclusive interviews with Snowden in Hong Kong, said in a brief report on its website.
“Moscow will not be his final destination,” it said, raising the possibility of Iceland or Ecuador as Snowden’s final destination.
Officials at Hong Kong’s airport authority and immigration department refused to comment. The Russian consulate could not be reached for comment.
Snowden flew out of Hong Kong on Sunday morning on board Aeroflot SU213 flight, the SCMP said. The flight is due to land at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport at 5:05pm (1305 GMT).
His reported departure came despite a US arrest warrant and extradition request to authorities in Hong Kong, where the former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA) came on May 20.
Meanwhile, China attacked the United States after Snowden raised new allegations about the far-reaching extent of US cyber-snooping against Chinese targets.
In the latest revelations published by SCMP, Snowden said the NSA was hacking Chinese mobile phone companies to gather data from millions of text messages.
US spies have also hacked China’s prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing and Asia Pacific fibre-optic network operator Pacnet, the SCMP quoted Snowden as saying.
Snowden has been charged with espionage by the US after revealing a massive spying program.
“The NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cell phone companies to steal all of your SMS data,” Snowden said in the interview conducted on June 12.
The SCMP said Snowden had provided documents listing operational details of specific attacks on computers, including internet protocal (IP) addresses, over a four-year period.
Government data shows almost 900 billion text messages were exchanged in China in 2012.
The claims followed soon after a report in the Guardian in which he claimed the British government’s electronic eavesdropping agency had gained secret access to fibre-optic cables carrying global Internet traffic and telephone calls.