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How Snowden Got Out of Hong Kong: Middle Name

Hong Kong accuses US of mix-up
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2013 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US accused China of allowing Edward Snowden to depart Hong Kong against Washington's wishes, but Hong Kong officials say a name mix-up is actually what allowed Snowden's departure. It seems Hong Kong's immigration records have the NSA leaker's middle name listed as Joseph, which is supposedly the middle name listed on his passport. But, on documents requesting that Hong Kong nab Snowden, the US government listed Snowden only as Edward James Snowden and Edward J. Snowden, Hong Kong's justice secretary tells the Wall Street Journal.

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That complicated Hong Kong's attempt to process the US request to issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden, the official says. What's more, he adds, the US request did not specify a passport number for Snowden. Officials asked for clarification on Friday, he claims, but had not gotten a reply by the time Snowden took off Sunday. Meanwhile, USA Today reports—citing RIA Novosti—that Snowden may be running out of time in the Moscow airport, because a source close to the case claims his Russian transit visa was likely only valid for three days, and thus may be about to expire. But the latest story on RIA Novosti's site is not clear on the matter, and says that even without a transit visa, border guards have discretion on a case-by-case basis whether to deport him. WikiLeaks tweeted yesterday that without his passport, Snowden may be stuck "permanently in Russia." The Washington Post has more on the weird limbo of the airport transit zone. (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)

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