Edward Snowden 'contacted' Russians two days before arrival in Moscow

Russian newspaper reports Snowden discussed his flight plans with consulate in Hong Kong prior to departure, despite Putin claims his arrival was 'complete surprise'

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spent two days at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow, a respected Russian newspaper reported.

The claims appear to contradict statements from President Vladimir Putin that Mr Snowden’s arrival at the Sheremetyevo international airport was a “complete surprise”.

The newspaper, Kommersant, also reported that the former US intelligence contractor had planned to travel to Cuba, until authorities there bent to American pressure and denied him entry.

Kommersant cites sources “close to Snowden” as well as contacts in the government, and if true the revelations point to much greater Russian involvement in the whistleblower’s efforts to escape charges in the US than had previously been thought.

Mr Snowden flew to Moscow on 23 June with a ticket that would have taken him on to Cuba the following day. According to an unnamed Russian government official, he appeared at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong on his own initiative two days before the flight and asked for their help.

A source identified as “close to the [American] State Department” confirmed that Cuba was among a number of countries asked by the US not to provide assistance to Mr Snowden.

As a result, officials informed Russia that Mr Snowden’s Aeroflot flight from Moscow would not be allowed to land in Havana if the fugitive was on board.

Two days after Mr Snowden landed in Moscow, President Putin said that his choice of travel route and his request for Russia's help had come as a “complete surprise.” This was interpreted at the time as referring to his arrival in Moscow, but the exact point at which the eastern-European government had been surprised remained unspecified.

Mr Snowden remained at the airport for six weeks, during which time he held a closed meeting with representatives from human rights groups. He was eventually granted a year’s asylum in Russia.

The affair is a continued sore spot for diplomatic relations between Russia and the US, after President Barack Obama cancelled a meeting with Mr Putin over what he described as a “Cold War mentality” in harbouring Mr Snowden.

The presidents are both set to attend next week’s G20 summit in St Petersburg, and it remains unclear whether or not they will meet individually.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there