The plane pictured above just left Moscow on its way to Havana, but without it's most famous passenger. Instead, the plane is filled with reporters who were hoping to catch a ride with the world's most wanted fugitive, Edward Snowden, who was checked into the flight and had purchased two tickets. However, the plane left without Snowden ever boarding, and those journalists will be sending the next few days in Cuba without a story to cover.
Standing next to Edward Snowden's seat on flight to Cuba. He ain't here. pic.twitter.com/NVRH3Pzved— max seddon (@maxseddon) June 24, 2013
So now the stakeout continues in Russia. No one in the media has seen Snowden since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday, but that's because he is believed to have spent the entire in time in Sheremetyevo Airport's "transit area," since he lacks both a visa and a valid passport that would allow him to enter the country. Diplomats from the Ecuadorian embassy were seen at the airport, but it doesn't appear that they were able to spirit him out of the airport in order to grant him asylum. Everyone will just have to wait and see if he tries another flight to Cuba, or another route to Ecuador, or the Ecuadorian embassy, or if the Russians will actually go in and pick up.
There's even some speculation that he was never in Moscow, and the entire adventure is an elaborate ruse concocted with the help of Wikileaks lawyers. No one saw him get off the plane in Moscow, there's been no solid confirmation that he's even in the airport, and the only statement from Wikileaks is that "He is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks."
Meanwhile, the United States is letting anyone and everyone know that they are not pleased with latest turn of events, even though they may only have themselves to blame. While Hong Kong and China appear to have been less than helpful when it comes to apprehending Snowden — Reuters reports that he was encouraged to leave by the Chinese government — the Americans' own inaction (or incompetence) may have contributed to his escape. The U.S. government has revoked Snowden's passport, but they may not have done it quickly enough and they also failed to place a "red notice" on Snowden through the international law enforcement agency, Interpol. That should have prevented him from flying anywhere and also would have forced Russian authorities to respond to the request for his detention.
Yet, if he made it to Moscow and the Americans are determined to make sure he stays there. Secretary of State John Kerry has called Snowden "a traitor to his country" and that there will "consequences" for Russia and China if he is allowed to reach a safe haven.
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