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Where In The World Is Edward Snowden? Still Russia, It Seems

Journalists on board a Moscow-to-Havana flight Monday thought that NSA leaker Edward Snowden would be in that window seat. Instead, the plane left with that spot empty.
Maxim Shemetov
Reuters /Landov
Journalists on board a Moscow-to-Havana flight Monday thought that NSA leaker Edward Snowden would be in that window seat. Instead, the plane left with that spot empty.

After hours of breathless reporting about how "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden would be getting on a Moscow-to-Havana flight Monday, it seems he did not in fact board the jet for what what was thought to be a step toward asylum in Ecuador.

The Guardian, one of the news outlets that is live blogging about Snowden's movements, writes that "Aeroflot confirms Snowden was not on that plane, according to both Reuters and AP."

Meanwhile, Reuters reports from New Delhi that "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday the United States does not know the intended travel destination of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden after he was allowed to leave Hong Kong despite U.S. demands for his arrest."

So, there really isn't much we can add at this point to our Snowden/NSA leaks timeline:

June 5: The U.K.-based Guardian newspaper reports that the National Security Agency has been collecting telephone metadata of U.S. customers of Verizon.

June 6: In its second expose on secret U.S. electronic surveillance efforts, the Guardian reports on a "highly classified" program called PRISM that allows the NSA access to servers of Microsoft, Google, Apple and other leading tech companies to collect emails and other data.

June 9: The Guardian identifies Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, as the source of the leaks of classified information behind its exclusive reports. The newspaper says Snowden asked that his name be made public, and links to a video of the 29-year-old consultant justifying his actions. The newspaper says Snowden has taken refuge in Hong Kong.

June 20: The Guardian reports that special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, courts gave permission to the NSA to retain "inadvertently acquired" domestic communications "if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity."

June 21: Federal prosecutors file a criminal complaint against Snowden, charging him with espionage.

June 22: The U.S. makes a formal request to Hong Kong to hand over Snowden for prosecution under the terms of a 1998 extradition treaty between Washington and the Chinese territory.

June 23: Snowden leaves Hong Kong on a plane that transits through Moscow, but his ultimate destination remains unclear. Ecuador's foreign minister says Snowden has asked that country for asylum.

June 24 (Monday): Snowden doesn't show up for a Moscow-to-Havana flight he was expected to board.

We'll keep an eye out for more news on Snowden's whereabouts.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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