Snowden stays a step ahead of U.S. law enforcement net

U.S. officials say the former intelligence contractor accused of espionage has had his passport revoked.

Authorities say the passport revocation occurred before fugitive Edward Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow early Sunday to avoid extradition to the United States. A U.S. statement late Sunday said the United States is advising governments in the Western Hemisphere that Snowden is “wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel.”

Snowden went to Hong Kong earlier this month to disclose secret details of the U.S. government’s broad surveillance of telephone and Internet activities at home and abroad. U.S. prosecutors Friday unsealed spy charges based on those disclosures, and on Sunday voiced dismay that Hong Kong did not detain the fugitive.

With pressure mounting on Hong Kong authorities, Snowden left the Chinese city and arrived Sunday in Moscow, en route to expected political asylum in Ecuador. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino confirmed the asylum request, but did not offer further details.

Snowden remained inside Moscow’s airport after arriving Sunday. Russian news agencies said he is expected to leave Monday on a flight to Cuba, before continuing to his final destination.

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said its legal advisors and unidentified diplomats accompanied Snowden as he fled to Moscow Sunday. It said the escorts will remain with Snowden as he travels to Ecuador, one of Latin America’s strongest critics of U.S. foreign policy.

Ecuador has sheltered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy for the past year, to prevent his possible extradition to the United States, where he faces charges related to the group’s publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.

Snowden leaked documents showing that U.S. intelligence services have gathered data for years about patterns of telephone and Internet use at home and abroad. He said he believes the programs violate the privacy rights of citizens.

Senior U.S. officials have said the surveillance programs do not monitor the content of phone conversations, but look for patterns in the metadata, including information on the time, date and numbers called.

U.S. authorities also have said the programs prevented at least 50 terrorist attacks worldwide since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. They have accused Snowden of weakening their ability to foil future plots.

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