Saturday 16 December 2017

Snowden’s plane lands in Moscow as US seeks his return

Protesters in support of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency
Protesters in support of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor

Lidia Kelly

A plane thought to be carrying former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has landed in Moscow.

Airport officials said the flight from Hong Kong had landed but could not immediately confirm Snowden, who is charged by Washington with espionage, was on board. But a source at the Russian airline Aeroflot said he had booked a seat on the flight.

However, Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer charged that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely knew and approved of fugitive Edward Snowden's flight from Hong Kong to Russia and that it will likely hurt U.S.-Russian relations.

"Putin always seems almost eager to stick a finger in the eye of the United States - whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden," Schumer told CNN's "State of the Union," adding that China may have been involved as well. "Allies are suppose to treat each other in decent ways."

The United States has been told by Hong Kong that Snowden left Hong Kong for "a third country" and will seek cooperation with countries Snowden may try to go to, a Justice Department official said today.

"We will continue to discuss this matter with Hong Kong and pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with other countries where Mr. Snowden may be attempting to travel," Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement.

The United States contacted Hong Kong on Saturday seeking Snowden's extradition, Chitre said.

Hong Kong earlier today allowed Snowden to leave Hong Kong for a third country. According to a source at Russia's Aeroflot airline, Snowden is traveling to Moscow and is planning to go to Venezuela via Cuba.

Snowden’s's reported choice to fly to Cuba and Venezuela undermines his whistleblower claims, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said today

"Everyone of those nations is hostile to the United States, the Michigan Republican said on NBC's "Meet the Press" news talk show.

The U.S. government must exhaust all legal options to get Snowden back to the United States, Rogers said.

"When you think about what he says he wants and what his actions are, it defies logic," said Rogers, who repeated his assertion that Snowden's leaks of secret government surveillance programs had damaged U.S. national security.


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