Snowden stuck in Moscow: Public support falls
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday. His ongoing presence in a Moscow airport may test the relationship between the United States and Russia. He faces U.S. charges of espionage for leaking secret government surveillance details.
A former U.S. spy agency contractor facing charges of espionage remained in hiding at a Moscow airport on Wednesday while the prospect grew of a protracted wrangle over his fate.Skip to next paragraph
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Ecuador, where Edward Snowden has requested asylum, said a decision could take months and asked Washington to argue its case for extradition. Russia said Snowden, whose flight is proving a growing embarrassment for President Barack Obama, was still in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport.
A leading U.S. senator sought to raise pressure on Ecuador by saying he would seek to end preferential access for its goods to the United States if it gave asylum to Snowden, while Quito denied it had given him any travel document.
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Snowden fled the United States to Hong Kong this month after leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programmes, then flew on to Moscow on Sunday.
He has not been seen in the transit area - the zone between the departure gate and formal entry into the country - since his arrival, although a receptionist at a hotel in the transit zone said he looked at the prices there on Sunday, then left.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Snowden was being interviewed by Russian intelligence and called any U.S. accusations that Moscow was aiding him "ravings and rubbish".
There was no sign of Snowden registering for onward flights out of Russia on Wednesday.
"They are not flying today and not over the next three days," an Aeroflot representative at Sheremetyevo said when asked if Snowden and his legal adviser, Briton Sarah Harrison, were due to fly out. "They are not in the system."
'Serious security breach'
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday that Snowden's leaks to news media had been a "serious security breach" that damaged U.S. national security. He repeated calls for Moscow to hand him over.
"I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here," Hagel told a Pentagon news conference, adding that Moscow evidently had not made a final decision since Snowden reportedly was still at the airport.