The US whistleblower Edward Snowden got stuck in the transit zone of a Moscow airport because Havana refused to let him fly from Russia toCuba, a Russian newspaper has claimed.
Snowden, who is wanted in the US for leaking details of government surveillance programmes to the Guardian, had planned to fly to Havana from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport a day after arriving from Hong Kong on 23 June.
But Snowden, who eventually accepted a year’s asylum in Russia after spending nearly six weeks at Sheremetyevo, did not catch the flight although he had been allocated a seat.
Citing several sources, including one close to the US state department, Kommersant newspaper said the reason was that at the last minute the Cuban authorities had told officials to stop Snowden from boarding the Aeroflot flight.
It said Cuba had changed its mind after pressure by the US, which wants to try Snowden on espionage charges.
Kommersant also said Snowden had spent a couple of days in the Russian consulate in Hong Kong, where he declared his intention of flying to Latin America via Moscow.
“His choice of route and his plea to help were a complete surprise to us. We did not invite him,” Kommersant quoted a Russian state source as saying.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report. Allowing Snowden to land would have put Cuba’s relations with the US at risk.
Ties between the US and Russia were strained when Moscow granted Snowden asylum. Amid the disagreement over Snowden, the US presidentm, Barack Obama, postponed a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, which was planned for next month.
By The Guardian
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