Instead of deferring to the Obama administration's request for a provisional warrant of arrest against the NSA whistleblower, Hong Kong government said they abide by the law, and the US didn't provide enough information the requirement by that law. Request denied, Snowden free to go.
Snowden is in transit in Moscow and may be on the way to Ecuador, eventually, as the Foreign Minister of Ecuador tweets that his government received the asylum request.
From Hong Kong's Information Services Department (6/23/2013) (emphasis is mine):
Snowden leaves HK
June 23, 2013
Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel, and Hong Kong has informed the US Government of his departure.
The Hong Kong Government today said the US Government had earlier requested a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden.
Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the Hong Kong Government requested additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request met relevant legal conditions.
As the Hong Kong Government did not yet have sufficient information to process the request, there was no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.
At the same time, it has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. It will follow up on the matter, to protect the legal rights of people of Hong Kong.
So, Hong Kong pulled off a "Sir Humphrey Appleby", in a good way, by sticking to the rule of law.
In what could be a small sign of perhaps a slowly changing time that even the progressives may be upset with the federal government surveillance, Nancy Pelosi, US House Minority Leader, was booed onstage by her home crowd, as The Hill reports (6/22/2013; emphasis is mine):
Pelosi booed for saying NSA leaker Snowden violated the law
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was booed onstage Saturday when she said former government contractor Edward Snowden broke the law by leaking classified documents on National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.
Speaking at the NetRoots Nation conference in San Jose, Calif., Pelosi told the audience to reject comparisons between President Barack Obama and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, on their oversight of surveillance programs. The top House Democrat said Obama is poised to reveal "in another few days, a few more proceedings" of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Pelosi received the loudest boos and heckles from the crowd when she said Snowden had run afoul of the law by leaking documents to the media on a pair of secret NSA surveillance programs.
"He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," Pelosi said, drawing a thunder of boos from the crowd at the progressive conference. "I understand, I understand, but he did violate the law. And the fact is that, again, we have to have the balance between security and privacy, and we don't know what sources and methods may have been revealed, which is a tough thing."
(Full article at the link)