Four days after flying to Moscow on the way to Cuba and Ecuador, U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden is still stuck in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport, prompting speculation that he may repeat the fate of Tom Hanks’ character in The Terminal movie, who stranded at a New York airport for months because of a revolution in his home country.
Mr. Snowden missed his chance to fly out of Moscow when he failed to show up for a Havana-bound flight on Monday for which he had registered before embarking on Sunday on his flight for safety from Hong Kong.
To get booked for another flight he must produce valid identification papers and he does not have any after the U.S. authorities cancelled his American passport.
Sources close to Mr. Snowden confirmed to Russia’s Interfax news wire that he cannot either enter Russia or leave it.
“Cancelling Snowden’s passport and bullying intermediary countries may keep Snowden permanently in Russia,” WikiLeaks said in its Twitter feed.
Mr. Snowden has asked for asylum in Ecuador, but its Foreign Minister said on Tuesday that it would take at least two months to process the request. He compared Mr Snowden’s case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was granted asylum while hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Russian and foreign reporters have been scouting for Mr. Snowden at the Sheremetyevo Airport, some even buying tickets to get into the transit zone, others actually boarding “his” flight to Cuba, but nobody has seen him.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for the first time officially acknowledged that Mr. Snowden was still at the Moscow airport and made it clear that Russia had no plans to detain him or hand over to the U.S.
WikiLeaks activists tweeted on Wednesday that Mr. Snowden was well and escorted “at all times” by WikiLeaks lawyer Sarah Harrison. They denied he was being “debriefed” by Russian security services as some Western media suggested.
Mr. Putin said Mr. Snowden had no intelligence value for Russia.
“It’s like shearing a pig — too much squeaking, too little wool,” Mr Putin said Wednesday in his trademark style of a former KGB operative.