As the Moscow odyssey of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden went into the fifth day, a senior Kremlin official called for granting the him asylum in Russia.
Mr. Snowden on Thursday missed a third flight to Havana since Sunday, when he flew in to Moscow from Hong Kong on the way to Cuba and Ecuador, where he is seeking political asylum.
He has been staying in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo Airport ever since.
“There is no person named Edward Snowden in the list of passengers who have left for Havana today,” a Sheremetyevo official told the RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday.
“Snowden deserves protection”, Mikhail Fyodorov, head of the Russian President’s human rights council, said on Thursday.
“The man who exposes secrets of the special services, such as total digital surveillance, which pose a threat to society and millions of people, really deserves political asylum in one country or another.”
“If Snowden asks for asylum, the request can be considered by the President,” Mr Fyodorov said.
President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary made a similar statement last week.
Mr. Putin himself made it clear Russia would not extradite Mr Snowden to the America, but stopped short of offering him asylum.
A senior Ecuadoran official on Wednesday denied earlier reports that his country had issued Mr Snowden a “safety pass” for temporary travel after the U.S. cancelled his passport.
“He does not have any documents issued by the government of Ecuador, such as a passport or a refugee identification,” said Galo Galarza of the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador.
Mr. Snowden may thus have to wait at Moscow airport till Ecuador rules on his asylum request, which may take up to two months, according to Ecuador’s Foreign Minister.
It may be some consolation for him that he can stay in the airport transit zone “as long as he wishes”, according to a Russian immigration on Thursday.