NSA leaker and international fugitive Edward Snowden was expected to take a trip from Moscow to Havana today, potentially en route to Ecuador via Venezuela, but his seat (17A) on Aeroflot Flight 150 from Russia was empty. We know this because, unlike Snowden, there are a bunch of disappointed journalists onboard. “He is not there,” an airline employee told the New York Times at the gate. “I was waiting myself.”
Snowden is thought to have arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong over the weekend, although he “has not been seen publicly or photographed since his reported arrival … and passengers on that flight interviewed at the airport could not confirm that he was on board.” If this is a misdirection campaign, it is working.
According to the Times, Snowden failing to materialize on his Havana-bound flight “also raised the possibility that the Russian government had detained him, either to consider the demands by the Obama administration to intercept him and return him to the United States or perhaps to question him for Russia’s own purposes,” which sound nefarious.
The news wire Interfax, meanwhile, cites an unnamed source alleging that Snowden “has most likely left Russia.” Or:
Ecuador is currently considering the ex-government contractor’s request for asylum, with the country’s foreign minister perhaps tipping his hand a bit in explaining that the decision “has to do with freedom of expression and with the security of citizens around the world.” Now Snowden just has to get there.
“Cuba here we come,” wrote the AP’s Max Seddon, one of the reporters taking the long, alcohol-less flight. “Taxiing down Sheremetevo runway and no sign of Snowden.” But if he pops out of a suitcase at the other end, at least the press will be on hand to see it.