NSA leaker Edward Snowden slipped back under the radar on Monday, failing to show up on the Cuba-bound flight he was expected to board from Moscow and befuddling the media who have been tracking the international fugitive’s every move.
Snowden, who evaded U.S. extradition efforts and left Hong Kong for Russia over the weekend, had been booked on an Aeroflot flight to Havana on Monday morning. But reporters on the plane, and an Aeroflot agent, reported no sign of him.
It’s unclear what U.S. officials might know about Snowden’s location. The U.S. government has been pressuring countries not to provide him passage, and has revoked his passport.
Secretary of State John Kerry would only say that the U.S. does not know where Snowden is heading.
Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, though, said Snowden was ultimately bound for Ecuador “via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks.”
Ecuador says it is considering the request.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino spoke briefly to reporters on his way to a meeting with Vietnam’s foreign minister Monday, saying his country is analyzing Snowden’s request but did not say how long it would take Ecuador to decide.
“We are analyzing it with a lot of responsibility,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters through a translator at a hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam.
He says the asylum request “has to do with freedom of expression and with the security of citizens around the world.”
“There are some governments that act more upon their own interests, but we do not,” Patino said when asked if he was concerned about potentially damaging Ecuador’s relationship with the United States. “We act upon our principles.”
“We take care of human rights of the people,” he added.
The White House responded to the weekend’s events late Sunday, saying the U.S. hopes Russia will look at “all options available” to extradite Snowden back to the U.S. to face charges before he leaves for South America.
The statement cites the two countries’ recent cooperation in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and the U.S.’ extradition of criminals back to Russia as factors the White House hopes will influence Russia’s decision.
Reuters reported early Monday that Putin’s press secretary has denied any knowledge of Snowden’s movements.
A source confirmed to Fox News Sunday that the United States has revoked Snowden’s passport.
The U.S. has been left with limited options as Snowden’s itinerary took him on a tour of what many see as anti-American capitals. Ecuador in particular has rejected the United States’ previous efforts at cooperation.
“The United States has been in touch via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations,” a State Department official told Fox News. “The U.S. is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”
Snowden helped The Guardian and The Washington Post disclose U.S. surveillance programs that collects vast amounts of phone records and online data in the name of foreign intelligence, but often sweeping up information on American citizens. Officials have the ability to collect phone and Internet information broadly but need a warrant to examine specific cases where they believe terrorism is involved.
Snowden has been in hiding for several weeks in Hong Kong, a former British colony with a high degree of autonomy from mainland China. The United States formally sought Snowden’s extradition from Hong Kong but was rebuffed; Hong Kong officials said the U.S. request did not fully comply with their laws.
The Justice Department rejected that claim, saying …