Edward Snowden has disappeared. The NSA whistleblower, who was presumed to be on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow and thence to Havana did not board the flight to Havana. Some doubt whether he actually went to Moscow and suggest that though he had left Hong Kong, his alleged flight to Russia was a feint, misinformation to throw the press and governments off his tail. Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador.
Wherever he is, we hope he's safe.
The Guardian's Paul Owen is doing a great job of liveblogging the twists and turns in this remarkable story.
• Edward Snowden’s whereabouts are currently unknown after he failed to get on an Aeroflot flight the Russian airline said he was booked on from Moscow to Havana. It has been assumed that he was heading via Cuba for Ecuador; Quito’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca said yesterday the country had received an asylum application from him. But amid farcical scenes the plane full of journalists – and presumably representatives of various governments – took off for Cuba without him. One reporter tweeted a plaintive picture of Snowden’s empty chair.
• Patino said Snowden – the former CIA analyst whose leaks to the Guardian about US intelligence programmes have caused controversy around the world – had arrived in Russia and said his government was currently considering his asylum request. But he said Quito did not know where Snowden was at this moment – or where he was going next. Patino hinted that if Ecuador accepted Snowden’s request it would be on the grounds of privacy, freedom of speech, and human rights. The country already shelters Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London. Wikileaks was today forced to defend Ecuador’s questionable record on press freedom.
One note from Owen's liveblog: the USA are fuming mad that Hong Kong authorities rejected their request to imprison Snowden on technical grounds.