The whereabouts of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contracter who leaked details of secret US surveillance programs, are unknown after he failed to board a flight from Moscow to Havana on Monday.
Snowden, who arrived in the Russian capital from Hong Kong Sunday morning, was booked onto a Cuba-bound flight departing at 2:05 PM the next day, a spokesman for Russia’s Aeroflot airlinetold the Associated Press.
When the flight took off from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, however, Snowden’s seat was empty — as several journalists onboard testified.
An Aeroflot employee confirmed to Reuters that Snowden had not boarded the plane.
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Snowden is expected to attempt to reach Ecuador, where he has requested asylum.
The United States, which is seeking to try Snowden on charges of leaking classified information, has revoked his passport and urged Western countries to comply with its demands to return him.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned that there would be “consequences” if Russia allowed him to continue his journey.
If Ecuador decides to grant him asylum, the government could issue him with the travel documents necessary to make his way there, a Russian official told Interfax news agency.
The Ecuadorean government is studying Snowden’s request, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Monday, stressing that “We always act by principle, not in our own interest.”
Snowden’s case “has to do with freedom of expression and the security of citizens around the world,” Patino told reporters.