National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has fled Hong Kong with the ultimate intentions of reaching Venezuela, a Russian airline source told Reuters on Sunday.
The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that Snowden had left Russia on a commercial flight to Moscow. From there, he is expected to travel to Cuba and then Venezuela, a Russian airline source said.
"Snowden left Hong Kong on his own will," a Hong Kong government official told the South China Morning Post.
A statement from WikiLeaks confirmed that Snowden was "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."
"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person," Wikileaks legal director Baltasar Garzon said. "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 U.S. has used the Espionage Act to charge Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and the wilful communication of classified intelligence.
Hong Kong authorities reportedly let Snowden leave the country after saying that an extradition request from the U.S. was not in full compliance with the country's laws.
"I don't think he's a hero," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News on Sunday. "He compromised a national security program designed to find out what terrorists are up to. So, the freedom trail is not exactly China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela."
"So, I hope we'll chase him to the ends of the Earth and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy," Graham added.