By Jake Carpenter, Holly Yan and Nic Robertson, CNN
Hong Kong (CNN) – Edward Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday for a third country “through a lawful and normal channel,” the Hong Kong government said.
Snowden took off not long after the United States asked Hong Kong to extradite the man who leaked top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs.
The U.S. government had also asked Hong Kong to issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said.
But officials said there were problems with the request.
“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,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement. “… 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 statement did not say what additional information Hong Kong needed from the United States, nor did it say where Snowden was headed.
U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person.
The latter two allegations amount to espionage under the federal Espionage Act.