All eyes were on seat 17A as a planeload of journalists strapped themselves in for an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Cuba with former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Their first disappointment was that Snowden didn’t show up.
The second was that it was a booze-free flight - all 11 hours and 35 minutes of it. Moscow-based journalists had scrambled to buy seats, at around $2,000 for a return flight, in the hope of getting a few words from Snowden — or even a first sighting of him since he left Hong Kong on Sunday.
But the cat-and-mouse game continued, with the US’ most wanted man, outwitting his pursuers yet again as he tried to evade prosecution.
Although airport sources had said Snowden was booked into seat 17A, someone else was sitting there as the plane took off. “He’s not on board,” said a flight attendant.
A source at Aeroflot said the same thing. With not much else to do, journalists sent pictures of the empty seat from their mobile phones.
A Twitter feed, @Snowdensseat, was soon set up in the name of seat 17A with messages such as: “Getting a lot of angry looks from journalists around me. Deadlines probably looming.