MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) – Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by the United States for revealing a highly classified surveillance program that allegedly monitored phone and electronic conversations of millions of Americans, has arrived in Moscow and has been examined by an Ecuadorian Embassy doctor, the Ecuadorian newspaper Hoy reported Sunday.
Snowden, 30, left Hong Kong on Sunday, a day after the United States formally requested his extradition. A passenger who was on an Aeroflot flight that Snowden is believed to have taken to Moscow told RIA Novosti that Snowden had gotten into a car with diplomatic plates on the tarmac at Sheremetyevo Airport.
However, media reports cited airport officials as saying that Snowden would not be allowed to leave the premises because he did not have a Russian visa and would therefore only be able to fly to a third destination.
Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which has released thousands of classified US government messages, has been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than a year.
The Associated Press on Sunday reported that WikiLeaks had said that it was assisting Snowden and that he was bound for an undisclosed “democratic nation via a safe route for the purpose of asylum.”
Snowden, who had worked for US defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, hit the media spotlight in early June after he leaked to the press information about the extensive surveillance program. Days after the leak, Snowden was quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper as saying he was “neither a traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”
Various news agencies on Sunday reported without confirmation that Snowden could next fly to Ecuador, Iceland, Cuba or Venezuela.