Moscow, Aug 27 (): NSA leaker Edward Snowden sought help at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong two days before flying to Russia who then got stuck at Moscow airport when Cuban authorities refused to allow a connecting Aeroflot flight to land in Havana if he were aboard, the respected Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Monday.
The newspaper said Cuba had changed its mind after pressured by the United States, which wanted to try Snowden on espionage charges. The source said Snowden had turned up uninvited, adding that he had planned to fly to Latin America via Moscow and asked for help, citing international conventions on the rights of refugees.
Former NSA contractor Snowden spent several days, including his 30th birthday, in the Russian consulate in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow on June 23.
Reportedly, Snowden explained to the Consulate that he planned to seek asylum in one of the Latin American countries and presented his ticket to Havana through Moscow.
Two days after Snowden landed in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his choice of travel route and his request for Russia’s help had come as a “complete surprise.” This was inferred at the time as referring to his arrival in Moscow, but Putin did not specify.
Putin has steadily maintained that his government had nothing to do with Edward Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Moscow as he avoided U.S. authorities.
Between his arrival on June 23 and being granted asylum nearly six weeks later, the Russian government said Snowden was limited to the airport’s transit zone. He held a secret meeting in the airport with representatives of human rights groups in mid-July. After he was granted asylum, he was allowed to leave the airport, but there have been no reports of where he’s staying.
Snowden is a 30-year-old former defence contractor. He has been charged under the U.S. Treason Act for giving out information on the National Security Agency’s surveillance and data-gathering networks. He has defended his action by saying he was trying to “correct this wrongdoing.”