Snowden – the former NSA contractor whose leaks to the Guardian about US intelligence programmes have caused controversy around the world – yesterday fled Hong Kong for Moscow after the authorities in the Chinese province said Washington’s provisional warrant did not fully comply with legal requirements. He had travelled to Hong Kong on 20 May as a base from which to reveal his secrets and his identity.
A representative of Russia’s Aeroflot airline told the Associated Press that Snowden registered for the flight to Havana that leaves Moscow today at 2.05pm (11.05am BST). He is expected to then leave Havana for Ecuador – the country that has granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London.
The airline says he registered for the flight on Sunday using his US passport – which American officials say has been annulled as part of an effort to prosecute him for revealing the highly classified government secrets.
Ecuador’s foreign minister said Sunday that Quito is considering his application for asylum.
We’ll have live coverage of all the latest developments here throughout the day.
Miriam Elder is at the airport in Moscow about to get on what we hope is the same plane to Havana as Edward Snowden. She told me:
As far as we know he’s expected to get on this flight to Havana in two hours, around 2pm Moscow time. There is speculation that maybe all this information that he’ll be on it is a ruse, but there’s a whole lot of journalists here taking the chance that he’ll be on that flight.
I asked her what the reaction had been in Russia to Snowden’s sudden arrival in Moscow yesterday.
It’s obviously been huge. It’s been a really big story. The airport has been crawling both with international journalists and Russian journalists … We haven’t had any really huge statements from Russian officials; Putin hasn’t commented on it. The foreign ministry, last I checked, just said they were looking into what his plans are.
And you’ve had a lot of Russian MPs calling for him to stay here and all I can say, being at the airport until 1am last night, is that there were Russian undercover agents all over the terminal where we believed him to be. It was really clear that the Russians were in charge of the situation here. There were Ecuadorian diplomats milling around trying to get to talk to him but the Russians seemed to be controlling everything here.
Miriam reiterated that there had been no confirmation of American speculation that the countries allowing Snowden to visit were getting information from him in exchange, but she said: “I would expect that Russian officials would be very eager to talk to him. And not only to talk to him to get information from him, but I suspect maybe to try to get him to stay here. Again, there’s no confirmation of that at all.”
She added that Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, had repeated to her that Moscow would consider any asylum request from Snowden.
I talked to Peskov yesterday morning and he said yes. I said, ‘Would you consider an asylum request from him?’ and he said, ‘Yes, that’s just standard procedure. That’s what we do for every application that we get.’
Elsewhere Peskov said the Kremlin was unaware of any contact between Snowden and the Russian authorities.
Miriam has tweeted a picture of the plane.
- Snowden : Monday flight to Havana (wikileaks-forum.com)
- Edward Snowden headed to Moscow (rbth.ru)
- Putin aide: ‘Unaware’ of Snowden trip (politico.com)
- NSA leaker Snowden’s plane to Cuba will pass through US airspace – source (rt.com)
- Snowden Not On Flight To Cuba (patdollard.com)
- Mystery as NSA whistleblower Snowden vanishes in Moscow (voicerussia.com)
- Where is Snowden? Not on board Cuba-bound plane, reports say (voicerussia.com)
- Will the Snowden impact the U.S.-Russia reset? (rbth.ru)
- Snowden whereabouts unknown as Russia resists U.S. pressure (antiguaobserver.com)
- Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Tweets Snowden on his request (newsmoose.com)