Whistleblower, enemy of America and for now free man. Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong. Julian Assange has confirmed that he helped secure passage from Hong Kong for Snowden. Those in America who wanted to paint Edward as a treacherous viper will now feel justified in doing so but, having backed him into a corner, he had few options.
The Hong Kong authorities dismissed the US extradition treaty issuing a statement which began: "Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.
"The US 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 US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR 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.
"The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure".
The Hong Kong administration also confirmed that it has written to US authorities asking for clarification regarding America's hacking activities in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, broke news of Snowden's departure early Sunday confirming:
Snowden left from Chep Lap Kok airport on a flight scheduled for 10.55am. He boarded Aeroflot Flight SU213, which is due to land at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport at 5.15pm local time (8.15pm Hong Kong time).
The report claims that: Russian news agencies Interfax and Itar-Tass reported Snowden is booked on a flight from Moscow to Cuba on Monday. Itar-Tass said Snowden would fly from Havana to Caracas, Venezuela.
Snowden now faces the life of a wanted man. His life will never truly be his own and at any time it could be shattered. Having opted to accept asylum from Russia and possibly other communist countries he has crossed another of Obama's red-lines.
That said it would be the same whichever politician and political party was in power in the USA. There will now be questions as to whether Snowden was a Russian sleeper all along but that does not detract from the fact that the US administration was caught "misbehaving".
As the story of Edward Snowden continues to unfold we should not forget that, whatever his motives, he uncovered wrong doing by western governments. The UK was in the thick of it with the USA confirming once again that our "special relationship" is not always a good thing.
Edward Snowden could be "taken out" by a CIA operative or a rogue gunman at any time. The US administration after all is running scared of possible further revelations.
For now the world is watching, which in some ways protects Edward Snowden. For that reason, plus our own peace of mind, we should keep watching.
At time of writing 12 noon BST Sunday Russia Today has breaking news that Snowden is already in Moscow.
Late afternoon update from the UK, the BBC reports that Snowden has asked for asylum in Ecuador. The report said:
The request was confirmed by Ecuador's foreign minister on Twitter.