As the whistleblower attempts a journey towards asylum, U.S. officials up the ante for his capture.
Journalists from the world’s largest media outlets hoping to book a trans-Atlantic flight alongside NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were disappointed out of Moscow early Monday morning after discovering that the thirty-year old U.S. citizen was not seated on the plane headed to Havana, Cuba.
The Associated Press’ Max Seddon, along with other reporters, boarded the scheduled flight but found no sign of Snowden. Seddon tweeted:
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
And Agence France-Presse followed up:
#BREAKING Edward Snowden not flying on Moscow-Havana flight, security source tells Interfax
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) June 24, 2013
And Paul Owen from The Guardian, who continues to liveblog about Snowden’s whereabouts as well as the context of his attempt to achieve safe passage to an asylum country, reports:
My colleague Miriam Elder didn’t manage to get on that plane to Cuba – but she’s very glad, since it seems Edward Snowden never got on it either. I just spoke to her.
She said Aeroflot officials had told her “with a little smirk” that they had been expecting Snowden too.
But Miriam pointed out that Snowden had never actually been sighted in Moscow, and there was actually no real evidence that he had ever been in Russia at all.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has ratcheted up pressure on foreign nations to help it capture and return Snowden to his native country.
As the BBC reports, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling overseas and recently arrived in India, has called Snowden a “traitor to his country” and urged countries to hand him over.
Presuming Snowden is inside Russia, Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said, “We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”
Detailing the events surrounding Snowden’s suspected flight to Cuba, Reuters added:
Since leaving Hong Kong, where he feared arrest and extradition, Snowden has been searching for a country which can guarantee his security.
Ecuador said it had received an asylum request and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, on a trip to Vietnam, said it would be analyzed with a “lot of responsibility”. He was expected to hold a news conference around 7.00 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT) in Hanoi.
A source at Russian airline Aeroflot said Snowden was booked on a flight due to depart for Havana on Monday at 2:05 p.m. (6.05 a.m. EDT). The gate for the Cuba flight was blocked and security was tightened.
A State Department official said Washington had told countries in the Western Hemisphere that Snowden “should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”
This article originally was published at Common Dreams.