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So, where is Edward Snowden?

By MARIA DANILOVA and SEAN YOONG
June 26, 2013

Transit passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, in the background, at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has remained in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone, but media that descended on the airport in the search for him couldn’t locate him there. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Transit passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, in the background, at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has remained in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone, but media that descended on the airport in the search for him couldn’t locate him there. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Moscow‘s main airport swarmed with journalists from around the globe Wednesday, but the man they were looking for — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden — was nowhere to be seen. The mystery of his whereabouts only deepened a day after President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden was in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport.

An Associated Press reporter entered the area Wednesday by flying from Kiev, Ukraine, and found ordinary scenes of duty free shopping, snoozing travelers and tourists sipping coffee, but no trace of America’s most famous fugitive. If Putin’s statement is true, it means that Snowden has effectively lived a life of airport limbo since his weekend flight from Hong Kong, especially with his American passport now revoked by U.S. authorities.

In a further twist, Ecuador’s foreign minister said Wednesday it could take months to decide whether to grant asylum to Snowden and the Latin American nation would take into consideration its relations with the U.S. when doing so. Speaking during a visit to Malaysia’s main city, Kuala Lumpur, Ricardo Patino compared Snowden’s case to that of Julian Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

“It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time,” Patino told reporters.

Snowden, who is charged with violating American espionage laws, fled Hong Kong over the weekend and flew to Russia. He booked a seat on a Havana-bound flight Monday en route to Venezuela, but didn’t board the plane. His ultimate destination was believed to be Ecuador.

The airport zone where Snowden is purportedly staying serves both connecting passengers traveling via Moscow to onward destinations and passengers departing from Moscow who have passed border and security checks.

The huge area unites three terminals: the modern, recently built D and E, and the older, less comfortable F, which dates to the Soviet era. The transit and departure area is essentially a long corridor, with boarding gates on one side and gleaming duty free shops, luxury clothing boutiques and souvenir stores selling Russian Matryoshka dolls on the other. About a dozen restaurants owned by local and foreign chains serve various tastes.

Hundreds of Russian and foreign tourists awaited flights here, some stretched out on rows of gray chairs, others sipping hot drinks at coffee shops or looking out through giant windows as silver-blue Aeroflot planes land and take off.

Business ran as usual at the terminals on Wednesday morning. An Asian girl, about 10 years old, slept peacefully on her father’s lap. A middle-aged mother and her teenage daughter tried out perfume samples at a duty free store, while nearby a woman in a green dress picked out a pair of designer sunglasses. A pilot was buying lunch at Burger King.

Putin insisted Tuesday that Snowden has stayed in the transit zone without passing through Russian immigration and is free to travel wherever he likes. But the U.S. move to annul Snowden’s passport may have severely complicated his travel plans. Exiting the transit area would either require boarding a plane or passing through border control. Both require a valid passport or other documentation.

Hordes of journalists armed with laptops and photo and video cameras have camped in and around the airport, looking for Snowden or anyone who may have seen or talked to him. But after talking to passengers, airport personnel, waiters and shop clerks, the press corps has discovered no sign of the leaker.

Russian news agencies, citing unidentified sources, reported that Snowden was staying at a hotel in the transit terminal, but he was not seen at the zone’s only hotel, called Air Express. It offers several dozen capsule-style spaces that passengers can rent for a few hours to catch some sleep. Hotel staff refused to say whether Snowden was staying there or had stayed there in the past.

“We only saw lots of journalists, that’s for sure,” said Maxim, a waiter at the Shokoladnitsa diner not far from Air Express. He declined to give his last name because he wasn’t allowed to talk to reporters.

The departure and transit area is huge and has dozens of small rooms, some labeled “authorized personnel only,” where someone could potentially seek refuge with support from airport staff or security personnel. And security forces or police patrolling the area can easily whisk a person out of this area through back doors or corridors.

There are also a few VIP lounge areas, accessible to business-class passengers or people willing to pay some $20 per hour. Snowden was not seen in those areas.

Sheremetyevo’s press service declined to comment on Snowden’s whereabouts. A policeman at the airport laughed off a question from an AP reporter about where he might be. “Journalists have searched this place for three days and have found nothing. Was he ever here in the first place?” the policeman asked. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks gave a terse update on Snowden earlier on Wednesday, saying in a statement posted to Twitter that he was “well.”

WikiLeaks says that one of its staffers, Sarah Harrison, was traveling with Snowden, but the statement gave no indication if the update came from her, from Snowden, or from some other source.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson did not immediately return a call and a text seeking further comment.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Assange said that he was limited in what he could say about Snowden due to security concerns. He denied reports that Snowden was spending his time at the airport being debriefed by Russian intelligence officers.

In another development, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon said Wednesday that he had decided not to represent the leaker. A statement from his law firm provided no further explanation.

Garzon, who has fought on WikiLeaks’ behalf, became famous for indicting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 and trying to put him on trial for crimes against humanity. He was suspended from office in Spain for overstepping his powers by starting an investigation into killings committed on behalf of former Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

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Yoong reported from Kuala Lumpur. Lynn Berry in Moscow and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

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Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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6 Responses to So, where is Edward Snowden?

  1. Bill Cravener

    June 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    So, where is Edward Snowden?

    Edward Snowden, ah, you coward, look at you running!

  2. Bill Cravener

    June 27, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Let’s begin with this, since Sir Carl finds my remarks that this coward Snowden should be shot dead I will from here on state he should be hung until dead. Perhaps that won’t rattle Sir Carl’s chain so badly. In any case, I had a bit more time to respond to this “So, where is Edward Snowden? “ piece this morning.

    To continue, this pathetic excuse of a man, this unadulterated coward, is rapidly approaching the classic profile of a defector. That is someone with a security clearance and access to classified information serving with an intelligence agency such as the NSA who then flees to another country and allows foreign entities access to that information.

    This defecting coward is reportedly carrying four laptop computers worth of secret information. Any pretense of his being motivated by a desire to protect the fundamental freedoms that Americans enjoy has evaporated completely. His own admission is he got a job with Booz Allen in the first place precisely so he could gain access to NSA secrets that he could then share with the world. That new explanation contradicts his earlier claim that only after working there and learning what the NSA could do did he decide on some delusional principle to leak classified data.

    This coward Snowden, while he may well feel personal outrage about the government’s monitoring of telephone records and Internet data, by his own admission, had a predilection for betraying the United States well before he caught on to these programs.

    He is a coward who instead of paying for his crime and standing by his so called principles made a quick getaway into the hands of our enemies. Hopefully we can soon retrieve this yellow bellied coward from his hideout, wherever that may be, and then hang him until dead!

    • Carl Nemo **==

      June 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      “Let’s begin with this, since Sir Carl finds my remarks that this coward Snowden should be shot dead I will from here on state he should be hung until dead.” …extract from post
      Hi Bill Cravener,
      First of all I will clarify my issues with your demands for Mr. Snowden’s death. We’re supposed to be a nation of laws where an accused is brought before a jury of their peers and if found guilty then sentenced accordingly. Under federal guidelines it would be either life imprisonment or death by lethal injection predicated on this level of espionage; I.E., a quaint term in our times I might add.
      What chaffs my hide about your commentary is a a subscription to 1878 styled justice where the vigilantes, self-righteous citizens or whomever decide to take the law into their own hands and render ‘justice’ accordingly because it outrages their inner sensibilities.

      Seemingly our now corrupt federal government is taking the law into their own hands on a daily basis, skewing the intent of the law to serve bankers, politicians and big businessmen’s interests while the little guy whether he/she is simply one to disclose outright illegal surveillance activity on the part of the government is tagged an “enemy of the state”.
      As far as King George III would have been concerned, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and a host of other prominant patriots would have been “enemies of the state” at that time in history which happened to be the superpower Britain. Surely King George III & Co. would have wanted them either shot or hanged from a yard arm without serious due process under British law. They were classed as rebels against the crown…period!
      You seem to be thinking in an myopic, hateful fashion without trying to see this flap in the grander scheme of events that effects our nation. There’s always two sides of a story, even sometimes three or more when it comes to crimes either they be great or small.
      *****
      “If you silence the truth and bury it underground, it will grow and gather such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.” …Emile Zola
      *****
      This is a key reason why economies crumble, markets crash and entire empires wind up in the junkyard of history.
      This is why investors lose fortunes.
      This why lives are destroyed.
      I’ll leave you alone to your commentary in the future with no further rebuttals on my part.

      Hopefully you’ll find peace of mind in time.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Bill Cravener

        June 28, 2013 at 6:12 am

        I’ll leave you alone to your commentary in the future with no further rebuttals on my part.

        That works for me Sir Carl. I think that some who post here are confused as to the difference between a debate forum and a news site where the editor permits comments on the news topic at hand. I’m not here to debate you or anyone else. I’m here to comment on an author’s story and that’s it. I would suggest that if you Sir Carl wish to debate posts by others your best bet would be a forum such as Doug’s Reader Rant website. I just do not care what you think of my opinions as long as they are not personal attacks.

        • Carl Nemo **==

          June 29, 2013 at 6:29 am

          “I just do not care what you think of my opinions as long as they are not personal attacks.” …extract from reply

          Hi Bill,

          I never considered my interface with you to be a ‘debate’. As I’ve explained it had to do with the rough tenor of your posts concerning the administration of deadly harm to others; I.E., rendering ‘summary justice’ to Mr. Snowden, a first ever that I’ve witnessed on CHB.

          I’m well aware of ReaderRant. My last post was number 223 in the Spring of 2012. Nice folks over there, but it’s not my cup of tea so to speak. I’ve been a participant on CHB since 2008 possibly somewhat earlier.

          I try to post content of a high caliber on this site, not to challenge, but to hopefully augment content. Rest assured you aren’t the first or probably the last individual I will take to task if they overstep themselves in terms of good taste and propriety. I’m not a self appointed moderator, but when something chaffs my hide relative to the aforementioned criteria, I will challenge a poster.

          Since you do not care “what I think”, then I’ll extrapolate that; to you don’t care what anyone else thinks either. Possibly you need to ‘think’ as to what you are posting before you lay your thoughts out on the www. Your thoughts as well as anyone else’s expressed on this site is a reflection of one’s core persona.

          I enjoy CHB as well as yourself and have supported it’s mission for quite some time. Mr. Thompson and I have had some ‘dustups’ over time, but he’s a standup guy in my book and has far more patience than myself in terms of dealing with opinions counter to his own. For that I both admire and thank him. You should appreciate the fact too.

          So in closing, I offer you the olive branch…Peace! : )

          Best regards,

          Carl Nemo **==

  3. Keith

    June 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Bill,

    In your continuing rants against Mr. Snowden, you forgot to mention that the US Surveillance “Bumbledom” ALSO got his middle name wrong on their extradition request to Hong Kong.

    So the Hong Kong authorities didn’t know who to look for.

    Rather than being a “coward” (as you say) I firmly believe Mr. Snowden is not only highlighting the horrific unconstitutionality of what our highly overpaid CIA, NSA, (et. al) “snoopers” are now up to…

    He’s ALSO very clearly showing how that Trillion-dollar a year “security” establishment we are all paying for (with printed money, no less!) is nothing but a bunch of bumbling bureaucratic fools who couldn’t work their way out of a wet paper bag!