MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) – Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor wanted by the United States for revealing a highly classified surveillance program that allegedly monitored millions of Americans, has eluded a pack of journalists at a Moscow airport, and officials from Russia as well as Ecuador, where he has requested asylum, say they do not know where he is.
While Snowden had checked in for a flight to Havana at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Monday, he apparently did not make it aboard the plane, which had been sold out and was packed with journalists. There is no direct flight from Moscow to anywhere in Ecuador.
Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian foreign minister said Monday that he was unaware of the whistleblower’s whereabouts.
No passenger resembling Snowden was seen boarding the plane, and his 17A seat remained empty at takeoff, a source familiar with the situation told RIA Novosti. “Snowden checked in at the airport, but was not physically on board the plane,” the source said, adding that he likely remained in the transit zone for passengers without a Russian visa.
In addition, the United States has canceled Snowden’s passport, citing the warrant for his arrest.
Asked at a televised press conference on Monday whether he knew where Snowden was, Ecuador’s foreign minister said he could not provide that information because “we don’t know.” However, he said Ecuador was considering Snowden’s asylum request and expressed hope that the Russian government would make an “appropriate” decision.
The surveillance program that Snowden revealed violated the rights not only of Americans but of all people in the world, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca told the conference in Hanoi, where he is currently on an official visit. “Is this [the information leak] betraying the citizens of the world or some elite in one country?”
Snowden left Hong Kong on a Moscow-bound plane on Sunday, after Washington asked Chinese authorities to arrest him on espionage charges. Russian officials have neither confirmed nor denied reports about Snowden being in Moscow. A spokeswoman at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Moscow said she was unaware of Snowden’s current whereabouts.