Ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden was not seen aboard the plane to Havana on which he was reportedly traveling, reports RT’s correspondent on the flight. The plane has already landed in the Cuban capital. The Russian airline Aeroflot previously confirmed that Snowden had checked in for flight SU150 to Havana with two seats (17A and 17C) in his name. However, journalists on board the plane said there was no sign of him. (Read what the White House said below)
The pilot of the Moscow-Havana Aeroflot flight many believed would carry Edward Snowden told RT Spanish that the flight went on as usual, with no VIP passengers on board. RT’s correspondent, Egor Piskunov on board the plane to Havana said the media presence in the boarding lounge was “astonishing.”
“Mr. Snowden has so far not been seen, but something out of the ordinary is definitely happening, judging by the security and the amount of media,” said Piskunov reporting from the plane. A member of the airport’s security team told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that Snowden had not left the airport’s transit zone.
“Snowden did not leave on the Aeroflot flight to Havana and is still in the transit zone,” said the source. Media has already begun to speculate on Snowden’s plans. One source told Interfax that Snowden was likely to have bought another ticket with a transfer in Cuba because “there are no direct flights to Quito and Caracas.”
Previously it was thought that Snowden would fly to Havana and then on to Ecuador where his asylum request is currently being processed. Snowden is currently trying to elude a US extradition order against him on charges of espionage, theft and conversion of government property.
Snowden reportedly arrived in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong on a stopover to a “third country.” The Hong Kong authorities released a statement on Sunday confirming his “legal” and “voluntary” departure. The statement also said that the documents for Snowden’s extradition submitted to the Hong Kong authorities by Washington were not sufficient to be able to “process the request.”
It is thought that Snowden spent Sunday night at Terminal F at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport because he does not possess a valid Russian visa.
A source at Aeroflot told Interfax news agency that Snowden had checked into the V-Express» Capsule Hotel Sunday in the airport’s transit area. However, on Monday evening a source at the hotel later told RT that Snowden had in fact never checked in or out of the facility.
“On Sunday the Ecuador ambassador to Russia paid a visit to a VIP lounge at the airport. He didn’t comment on whom he was meeting, but it’s very likely that it was Mr. Snowden,” Piskunov told RT.
Ex-CIA contractor, Edward Snowden’s plane to Cuba will pass through US airspace, an Interfax source reports. Washington has an extradition notice against Snowden on charges of espionage and could intervene if the plane enters US jurisdiction.
Aeroflot flight SU150 and will fly through US airspace a couple of kilometers from the coast of New York on its way to Havana, reported Russian news agency Interfax, citing a source in Sheremetyevo airport air traffic control. Snowden has checked in for the flight and there are two seats under his name, reports the Associated Press, citing Aeroflot. The plane has finished boarding and Snowden has not been seen on board.
The source added that US air traffic control can legally ground the plane and take Snowden into custody on charges of espionage, theft and conversion of government property. However, the pilot may change the course of the flight so as not to pass through American airspace.
“The pilot of the plane is within his rights to change the course of the flight and there should be enough fuel to do so,” said the source to Interfax.
White House: Snowden still in Russia:
The White House says they believe NSA leaker Edward Snowden is in Russia amid an international manhunt that has taken authorities and journalists around the globe this weekend.
“We have known where he is and believe we know where he is now,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday afternoon briefing. “It is our assumption that he is in Russia.”
“I’m not going to get into specifics, but it is our understanding that he is still in Russia,” Carney added later in the briefing. “We have asked the Russians to look at all the options and expel Snowden to the US,” he said.
Snowden, a 30-year-old American man, fled the US last month to meet with reporters with The Guardian in Honk Kong. There he supplied journalists with National Security Agency documents exposing vast surveillance efforts operated by the United States government.
On late Friday, Snowden was reported to be in Moscow, Russia, possibly en route to a final destination in Latin America or elsewhere. An indictment against him was unsealed in the US earlier that day.
Representatives with WikiLeaks said early Monday that Snowden submitted applications for asylum with Ecuador, Iceland and perhaps other locales. Carney, however, said the White House has been in discussions with “the diplomatic and law enforcement channels in countries where Mr. Snowden might transit.”
Later in the day, President Barack Obama said the US is following all appropriate legal channels in an attempt to extradite Snowden back to America, and was working with other countries to ensure the rule of law is observed.
“We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is,” WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said in a conference call shortly before the White House briefing. “He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration we cannot go into further detail at this time.”
“Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time,” Assange added.
Snowden was originally rumored to be heading to Cuba on Monday on the way to Ecuador, but his whereabouts remain publically unknown.