It's been a good while since Fidel Castro had the chance to really poke a big stick into Uncle Sam's eyeball. That's why Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker on the run from espionage charges, might just be the perfect early 87th birthday present for El Comandante.
Snowden holed up in Moscow over the weekend and reportedly was set to flee to Cuba this morning, possibly en route to Ecuador, where he's requested asylum.
A source from Russian airline Aeroflot told reporters yesterday that Snowden was booked onto an early-morning flight departing Moscow to Havana today. But the latest reports this morning suggest the whistleblower wasn't on the 5 a.m. flight.
A Russian reporter who booked a seat on that flight tweeted earlier this morning:
(Though some have speculated that Snowden could have been shuffled on board in disguise or otherwise hidden from view.)
Either way, it would make some sense for Snowden to head for Havana, where the government has a long history of sheltering American dissidents from charges.
Snowden has been making a tour of anti-U.S. strongholds since coming out as the source of information on NSA's PRISM program, which included widespread data-gathering on U.S. citizens' emailing habits.
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After hiding for weeks in Hong Kong, Snowden was allowed to leave Sunday in direct defiance of a U.S. request to arrest him. He headed to Moscow, where Russian officials have said they have "no authority" to hand him over to American officials.
He's been staying out of sight in the Sheremetyevo airport while formally requesting asylum in Ecuador, the Andean nation that granted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange safe haven in its London embassy.
Officials in Ecuardor, whose President Rafael Correa aligned himself with Venezuela's late Hugo Chávez in opposing U.S. influence in South America, have scheduled a news conference later this morning to discuss Snowden's asylum request.