The Washington Post passes along a report that the arrival of NSA leaker Edward Snowden in Moscow a couple of months ago didn’t come as a surprise to Russian officials, as they claimed at the time. In fact, they helped set up his travel while Snowden was still in Hong Kong, expecting that he’d quickly catch a connecting flight to Havana:
The article in Kommersant, based on accounts from several unnamed sources, did not state clearly when Snowden decided to seek Russian help in leaving Hong Kong, where he was in hiding in order to evade arrest by U.S. authorities on charges that he leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs.
….Kommersant reported Monday that Snowden purchased a ticket June 21 to travel on Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, from Hong Kong to Havana, through Moscow. He planned to fly onward from Havana to Ecuador or some other Latin American country….Kommersant quoted unnamed Russian officials as saying the Cubans decided to refuse Snowden entry under U.S. pressure, leaving him stranded. That version stands in contrast to widespread speculation that the Russians never intended to let the former CIA employee travel onward.
The article implies that Snowden’s decision to seek Russian help came after he was joined in Hong Kong by Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks staffer who became his adviser and later flew to Moscow with him. Harrison, the article suggests, had a role in the making the plans. The article noted a statement released by WikiLeaks on June 23, shortly after the Aeroflot flight left Chinese airspace, which said Snowden was heading to a destination where his safety could be guaranteed.
This may or may not be true, so keep an open mind about it for now. It’s just the latest in Snowden gossip.