Edward Snowden's vacant plane seat: the world's current most famous empty plane seat. PHOTO: Reuters
Edward Snowden did not board the flight he was expected to take from Moscow, Russia to Havana, Cuba. Snowden, who has been charged by the United States for espionage, planned to travel to Cuba and then on to Ecuador, which has considered granting Snowden asylum. Ecuador's track record suggests that it would be a good spot for Snowden: they currently grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. For some reason, Snowden did not carry out step one of his plan, which was to get on the plane from Russia to Cuba. Another option for Snowden is to find his way to Venezuela. There is no direct flight from Moscow to Ecuador.
The U.S. has pressured Russia and China before them, when Snowden was in Hong Kong, to send Snowden back to the U.S., but neither has complied. The U.S. has reportedly been in touch with Ecuador, Venezuela and other countries where Snowden might flee. Earlier reports suggested that Snowden might find refuge in Iceland.
If subjected to the U.S. criminal justice system, Snowden could face decades in prison. The full list of the charges against him are: theft of federal government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, the latter two charges related to the U.S. Espionage Act.
Snowden’s whereabouts become more of a mystery with each passing day. He was reportedly on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow that landed on Sunday, but he has not been photographed since he arrived in Russia. That he didn’t board the plane to Havana could mean anything from that Russian officials have detained him, to the possibility that the flight was a decoy to distract from other travel.