A report in a Russian newspaper says that Edward Snowden reached out to the Russian consulate in Hong Kong, where he had fled to avoid being charged in the U.S. for leaking secret documents from the National Security Agency.
The report in the Moscow newspaper Kommersant says that Snowden spent two nights in the Russian embassy in Hong Kong before travelling to Russia. Once in Moscow, Snowden remained in the Sheremetyevo airport for more than a month before eventually being granted a one-year asylum by Russia.
The Kommersant report, which quotes unnamed sources, contradicts Russian President Vladamir Putin who has said that Snowden’s arrival in the country was a surprise.
“It is true that Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow, which was completely unexpected for us,” Putin told reporters during a press conference on June 25. “He came as a transit passenger, so he didn’t need a visa or other documents. As a transit passenger, he has the right to buy a plane ticket and go wherever he wants.”
The report goes on to say that Snowden didn’t want to stay in Russia, and was planning to board a connecting flight to Cuba and then on to a final destination in Latin America. But, under pressure from the United States, Cuban authorities said at the last minute that they would not allow Snowden to board a flight from Russia to Cuba, says the report.
Snowden is thought to be living in Moscow, but his wherabouts since he left the airport on Aug. 1 is unknown.