US to Russia: Hand Over Snowden

NSA leaker is supposed to be Cuba-bound
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 4:10 AM CDT
Updated Jun 24, 2013 8:00 AM CDT
US to Russia: Hand Over Snowden
A banner supporting Edward Snowden is seen in central Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Edward Snowden spent the night in Moscow's airport and was expected to fly to Cuba today—but American authorities are making it clear that they'd prefer that the NSA whistleblower was enjoying their hospitality instead. In a statement, the National Security Council said it expects Moscow to look at "all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the US to face justice" especially in light of "intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters," CBS reports. But "intensified cooperation" may not be coming:

  • The Washington Post reports that a Russian official today told Interfax that Moscow doesn't have the legal authority to comply with the US government's request. Other officials add that air travelers who don't cross passport control aren't technically on Russian land; because Snowden is without a Russian visa, there's no way he could have gone through passport control. John Kerry is chiming in, adds the AP, calling it "deeply troubling" if Russia allows Snowden to flee.
  • But is Snowden actually Cuba-bound? The airline Aeroflot told the AP he was booked on a Moscow-Havana flight this morning (the expectation being he'd then travel to Venezuela and then to Ecuador, where WikiLeaks says he will seek asylum), prompting a number of journalists to grab seats on said flight. But Snowden apparently never boarded, reports Business Insider via an article with this headline: "Russia Just Punked a Bunch of Journalists Who Are Now On Their Way to Havana."
  • AP Moscow correspondent Max Seddon confirmed that there was no sign of Snowden, tweeting, "Cuba here we come. Taxiing down Sheremetevo runway and no sign of Snowden. Seats empty still by 17A."
  • How did Snowden get out of Hong Kong yesterday to begin with? Despite the Chinese territory's autonomy, the final decision came from Beijing, sources tell the New York Times. The move lets China save face while avoiding a drawn-out extradition battle.
  • Some legal experts are telling the New York Times the US government goofed in waiting until Saturday to revoke Snowden's passport, though charges were filed June 14. Says a former federal prosecutor, "They missed an opportunity to freeze him in place." Still, the Times notes that Snowden may have still been able to fly to Moscow sans passport thanks to special refugee travel documents from Ecuador that WikiLeaks helped Snowden obtain.
(More Edward Snowden stories.)

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