Snowden leaves HK en route Moscow for third country

HONG KONG - United States whistleblower Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong for a third country.

The South China Morning Post reported that Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday on a flight for Moscow and that his final destination may be Ecuador or Iceland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Sunday that he was unaware of the location or plans of the former US National Security Agency contractor, Reuters reported.

A statement from Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun Ying's office on Sunday afternoon said that Snowden had departed earlier in the day on his own accord "through a lawful and normal channel".

It said that it was unable to stop Snowden from leaving, as the US government had not provided sufficient documents "to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest".

"The US Government had earlier on made a request to the Hong Kong Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden," it said.

"Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the Hong Kong Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US 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."

It added that it has already informed Washington of Snowden's departure.