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Snowden ‘in transit’ to third country via Russia
June 23, 2013, 5:49 pm

Snowden was forced to leave Hong Kong, where he had gained popularity as a whistleblower [Getty Images]

Snowden was forced to leave Hong Kong, where he had gained popularity as a whistleblower [Getty Images]

Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who admitted leaking leaked classified documents about US surveillance programmes to the media, arrived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday before being taken to an undisclosed location.

Snowden left his temporary sanctuary in Hong Kong after the US requested his extradition from China.

He was inspected by an Ecuadorian Embassy doctor at the airport, leading some media to speculate that he would be heading there as a final destination.

The final destination is unclear but Snowden may fly off to Iceland – the country he was considering when he arrived to Hong Kong – although the media cited sources as saying Venezuela or Ecuador were more likely.

Snowden does not have a Russian visa, which means he will officially be considered “in transit” en route to a “third country”.

Earlier Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Russia would consider providing Edward Snowden with political asylum if he makes an official request.

“If we receive such a request, we will consider it,” Peskov said.

However, experts say Snowden is unlikely to get asylum in Russia.

“Under the current circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Mr Snowden will actually ask for asylum in Russia. As the unfavorable public image of Russia is still widely present in the US and other Western countries, this move could seriously weaken his argument and will produce all sorts of accusations against him,” Igor Istomin, staff member of the European Studies Institute at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told The BRICS Post.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, told Australian Sydney Morning Herald paper that Snowden will be met by “diplomats from the country that will be his ultimate destination” in the airport, who’ll accompany him on a further flight to his destination.

Kommersant daily has cited a source at the Sheremetyevo airport saying that Snowden is “a transit passenger, his next flight is to Havana – on Monday 14:10.”

By Daria Chernyshova in Moscow, Russia for The BRICS Post