back to article Play the Snowden flights boardgame: Avoid going directly to Jail

If Vladimir Putin is to be believed, the PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden is considering his options from the transit capsule hotel at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. A plane full of journalists, anticipating he would join them, flew from the city for Caracas via Havana yesterday, but Snowden stayed put by the …


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  1. DrStrangeLug

    Slap in the face

    Could they put him up in a soyuz and de-orbit it over Cuba?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slap in the face

      Great minds think alike - you beat me to the first post :-)

    2. mmeier

      Re: Slap in the face

      Why waste a Soyuz? Strap him to an old "to be decommissioned" ICBM and launch. Solves all problems

    3. Rob

      Re: Slap in the face

      Don't forget the US has it's unmanned stealth shuttle designed for smash and grabs or is it experiments, I can't remember, so that rules out the soyuz.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Slap in the face

        The X37B is too small to grab a Soyuz (ala 'You Only Live Twice'), but it could presumably carry some kind of weapon. Also, although there is one in orbit right now, it was launched last December so presumably hasn't been specially fitted with Snowden grabbing equipment.

        There is apparently plans for an X-38C which would be larger, but the US would have to be pretty quick off the mark to launch something in time to make a rendezvous with a Soyuz, especially if the Soyuz was doing it's best not to be intercepted.

        Or, he could just get on a plane.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Slap in the face

          Maybe there are some LIM-49 Spartan still in storage for just such a job. A nice 5MT Enhance Radiation warhead and "close" counts...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not go high...? (Up I mean)

    Isn't the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia somewhere?

    Why not go up into space and then land back down where he wants, surely this would get around the airspace issue?

    Anonymous as I know Im going to get ribbed about this...

    PS - I was even thinking about a hot-air ballon in orbit as an easier solution - like Virgin did a few years ago! :>

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Why not go high...? (Up I mean)

      Or down...

      How about a trip across Russia to Vladivostok, nuclear sub to somewhere near the Ecuador coast (probably best give Hawaii a wide berth), and then launched out of a torpedo tube on one of those person carrying torpedoes and left to make his way ashore somewhere secluded.

      Strangely, Google maps didn't come up with that solution.

      Oops... Google will probably pass on the fact that I looked it up, and the NSA will be on MY tail now!

      1. dssf

        Re: Why not go high...? (Up I mean)

        If they are on YOUR tail, then maybe they'll be on mine, too. I am just self-annoyed that i did not two week or so ago think of what I say below:

        Suppose he never left Hong Kong. Suppose everything since his arrival was a feint, and that he's on a junket/junk bobbing around in the Hong Kong harbor. As busy as it is there, it's entirely possible he was stuffed in a counterfeit duffel bag, absconded to a minisub or other sub, then taken out that way. Suppose this is the one occasion where Xi an Putin spoke privately, in agreement, to SHAFT (Snowden Has A Fine Tool/Snowden Has Allowed Fuc*ing Them; Snowden, Have A Fun Trip) the USA.

        I it is possible that to prove his rejection to the USA, snowden left a finger in Hong Kong, and left a finger in the passenger terminal in one of those magic door-facing rooms. Plausibly, then, "he" (a piece of him, anyway) "is still in the airport" applies. Just, well, a piece that is definitely in "arrested development', maybe a pinkey here, and a pinkey there, so he can still type in the per-file passwords.

        Or, maybe he had a special "extraction", also involving "loyalty root canals".

        It may be that from the very beginning, his departure from the State, umm, state of Hawaii was very well coordinated, orchestrated, and set into motion, with China and Russia pulling the strings. This would be an interesting combination of Russian Rue-Let!, and Chinese Art of War.

        If so, then, so far, masterfully played.

        I concede that I possibly give both antagonists too much credit.

        But, considering how masterfully and openly Soviets/Russians can "award metals" (polonium infused treats) without much opposition, interdiction, or resistance, maybe they can pull off just about ANYthing if they want to.

      2. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Why not go high...? (Up I mean)

        Why not?

        Good idea, but obvious reason why not is spelled out in the article itself - that both the Soyuz and nuclear sub options would require active cooperation from Russian gov, which will not be forthcoming.

        The problem for him isn't just avoiding countries that have extradition treaties with US, it's also avoiding countries where 'accidents' could happen to him and that rules out pretty much any commercial airline choice through Middle East / Africa

        As long as he is (apparently) free to move around in Russia and can get to Vladivostok or any Pacific coast (or, indeed, also Arctic since we keep being told there's no more ice up there) port, why bother with the nuclear sub? Just get on a ship bound for Ecuador or Cuba, it's probably a lot cheaper to charter than a plane.

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Private , he going to have to go private

    If someone else is providing the funds then a nice Gulfstream 650 or a Falcon 7x could have him whisked off to anywhere that he pleases in no time at all.

    A quick stop in the Azores, Marocco, Canaries etc...

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Private , he going to have to go private

      He won't be funding anything right now: The US will certainly have ordered his assets frozen, so all he has to pay his way is the money he could carry, and that's probably almost all gone on the flight to Russia. Wherever he goes, he'll need someone to foot the bill.

      1. dssf

        Re: Private , he going to have to go private

        Not if he, Russia, and China planned it all from months ago. If so, then they would have prepared fake documents for him in advance, and he'd be able to freely pay his own way so long as he can deflect or confuse facial recognition cameras. Not terribly difficult if he is either embedded in soupy crowds, or if he is plastered in elderly-man makeup like that is humourously (after the fact, since he was apparently not a tearoarwrist)

        . If he avoided gait-analyzing software (assume that ALL NSA types of employees pass through biometrics and gait-analysis entry/exit points (I saw as much on the HK movie side in a Jet Li movie from around 1992, Hitman, which was edited OUT OF the USA market version (also edited out were quick scenes of Jet Li donning new attire to disguise his hitman status, capped of with a faux gay/gayish/flamy wrist action, hehehe), but I had a Hong Kong version, fortunately), then it would be easy to avoid any possible NSA-grafted-on gate gait grabbing software. IIRC, USA-based mystery/spy movies did not begin screen-possiting such software until after 2005. Maybe a reader can correct the year, if I am mistaken.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Private , he going to have to go private

      Private airplane is probably the worst of all moves. If you assume as everyone seems to be doing that the military-industrial-intelligence complex is out to snuff him, one manpad is all you need. Bonus points for blaming it on global terrorism and upping the threat level.

      If you're trying to get him out quietly, a military sub is probably your best option. Of course that has high risks too, but only if you assume the Soviets/Russians don't want him to arrive safely at his destination and don't already have copies of the data he stole.

      The best route would probably have been a direct flight from Hong Kong, or even more preferably Hawaii before the story broke. Of course that would have required a bit of minimal planning beforehand. Not the sort of thing the Hero of the World is expected to engage in before standing up for our privacy now is it?

  4. Colin Miller

    Fly east?

    Why didn't he fly East from HK to Guayaquil, Ecuador? Cathy Pacific (and American Airlines, but he wouldn't want to use AA) do this, only £2,300 for a short notice return (second ticket not used). As long as it doesn't go over Midway Atoll, it would probably have been easier.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. JohnG

      Re: Fly east?

      "Why didn't he fly East from HK to Guayaquil, Ecuador?"

      Probably because he had been told that "he would be arrested within hours" and there were no flights to Guayaquil at the weekend.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Fly east?

        > attracting attention, which may be the point of all this stupidity.

        Quite. Whilst a cat and mouse game is fun and all, fewer people are taking notice of the import of what he leaked. How's Bradley getting, anyhows?

      2. Tom 13

        Re: he would be arrested within hours

        WTF? He walked off with data from the most secret spy group in the worlds first hyper power and he wasn't expecting that when the story broke he'd be in danger of "being arrested within hours"? This is weekend D&D 101: Think through your plan before your punch the ancient huge red dragon in the nose. And even with a superb plan, it's probably not a good idea if you're a first level character.

  5. DuncanL

    Boring as it may be - amusing suggestions of space based escapes would be rather harder for Putin to pass off as "not helping" than simply introducing a new Aeroflot route for a few days...

    How about a tunnel through the centre of the Earth instead?....

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >How about a tunnel through the centre of the Earth instead?.

      Repeat to yourself: 'I shall watch not remakes of classic Paul Verhoven films.' [Total Recall]

  6. BillG

    Mr. Assange™ Says...

    Look at me! What about me? What about me?

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Mr. Assange™ Says...

      Julian is playing on another board. Namely, the London-centred board of the original 'catch mr. X' game, --- Mr. Snowden is playing the 21st century update of the game, more reasonably involving airlines than tub stops.

      // A bit mystifying that a London-based El Reg doesn't refer to the actual board game -- it's not that well-known everywhere.

  7. S4qFBxkFFg

    Flight to a (non air)port then ship?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Flight to a (non air)port then ship?

      This has the problem that he needs to "enter Russia" and it seems the Russian authoritees are keen to be able to finesse the situation by saying that as he's in the transit lounge he's not really in Russia so its nothing to do with them.

      However, in reality, I suspect the first paragraph should read

      Vladimir Putin is believed to be considering his options for the PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden in the transit capsule hotel at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

      Just as various people said when Snowden turned up in HK that his fate there was down to Beijing (and interview in Guardian a couple of days ago with someone connected to HK authorities seemed to say that HK's only role was to be told by Beijing that "Snowden is leaving - you are not to stop him") then now his pitched up in Moscow I think its up to Putin where/when he goes next.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative explanation..

    .. they are talking to him in an uncomfortable room about all he knows about the NSA.

    It did strike me as a tad risky to be ex NSA with allegedly a head full of juicy secrets (after all, he stated himself he had access to a lot more) and then immediately wander into countries who would really, really like to have that data. He could end up having to choose between giving either secrets or fingernails.

    I hope not, but it's a risk.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Alternative explanation..

      Thus all the journalists. If the Russian government wants to disappear him for interrogation, they'll have to be very careful about it - there'd be terrible political fallout if they openly displayed the Bad Old Days were still running.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tom 13

        Re: terrible political fallout if they openly displayed the Bad Old Days

        You mean worse fallout than publicly supporting the Syrian Scourge? Damn that's strong Kool-Aid you've been swilling. You'd best hope there really is a UFO coming with that next comet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ".. they are talking to him in an uncomfortable room about all he knows about the NSA."

      Or he's freely giving them any information they want (and as much as he can produce) in exchange for safety on the terminal, to be raised with a scheduled direct flight.

      That would be the most likely scenario in my opinion. He's already an unwanted person, so he basically has nothing to lose any more.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: @AC

        This kind of thing seemed much easier to pull off in the Bourne films.

        As you were everyone.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "This kind of thing seemed much easier to pull off in the Bourne films"

          True, but Jason Bourne was a remorseless one-man murder team of great efficiency, with the added benefit that his murders were covered by Hollywood Anonymity.

          Snowdon may be a tad less keen on showing his mad murder skillz, assuming that he has any to speak of, since Hollywood has a lot less importance with Interpol and the International Court of Justice than they hint at in their films.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: head full of juicy secrets

      He was barely at the NSA for 30 days and was a sysadmin, not an analyst. There are no juicy secrets in his head, only on his laptops. All the spy agencies know that.

      Which is probably the best protection he has with the Russians (and had with the Chicoms). If their questioning inadvertently kills him, they don't get the good stuff they want. Old hands you can count on to be calculating their plan to survive and so have some leverage. Noobs doing it for patriotic reasons are completely unpredictable.

  9. Timmay


    Are countries really allowed to have a say in who can and can't use the international flight tracks over them?

    Known criminals must travel these routes all the time, traversing countries they're wanted in, but I always thought so long as you don't set foot in that country you were fine...?

    1. Russ Tarbox

      Re: Airspace

      There are multiple airlines that aren't allowed to enter European airspace due to poor safety records.

      I think any country is allowed to determine who/what enters its airspace, and escort anyone unwelcome using fighter jets if necessary.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Airspace

      I seem to remember a flight from Europe (France) to Canada being escorted to land in the US to arrest someone on board (despite the fact that the US and Canada have extradition agreements)

    3. mmeier

      Re: Airspace

      Even if they do not have the legal rights - do you really believe a commercial pilot argues with a fighter plane? As soon as the fighter pilot asks "Your callsign is really KAL 007" he will land.

    4. Aldous

      Re: Airspace

      No fly list's exist and can be a real ball ache if your name is similar to a known terrorist

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Airspace


        "No fly list's exist and can be a real ball ache if your name is similar to a known terrorist"

        I think you mean a suspected terrorist. Most known terrorsists (in the legal sense of innocent until proven guilty) are in jail... or dead.

        Some of these suspected terrorists are really terrorists, but some are just people who have visited the wrong place at the wrong time.

    5. John Watts
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Airspace

      An excerpt from:

      For the Libyan raid, the United States was denied overflight rights by France, Spain and Italy as well as the use of European continental bases, forcing the Air Force portion of the operation to be flown around France, Spain and through the Straits of Gibraltar, adding 1,300 miles (2,100 km) each way and requiring multiple aerial refuelings. The French refusal alone added 2,800 km total, and was imposed despite the fact that France itself had been the target of terrorism directed by the Gaddafi government in Libya. French president Mitterrand refused its clearance because the United States refused to give to the French army all details about the operation and he did not want to authorize any foreign operation that couldn't be analysed by French authorities.


      Some bombs landed off-target, striking diplomatic and civilian sites in Tripoli, while the French embassy was only narrowly missed.

      Probably just an unfortunate coincidence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Airspace

        1986 Libya attack.

        I used to play that mission a lot in "F-19 Stealth Fighter" on my Amiga. The other operation I used to fly a lot involved stooging over Eastern Europe where I would sneak up under the Soviet AWACs aircraft and bring them down with a bit of old-fashioned gunnery at point-blank.

        Don't know why I mention that, it's not as if anyone in this day and age would try and bring down a large Soviet jet without appearing on radar themselves......

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Airspace

          >despite the fact that France itself had been the target of terrorism directed by the Gaddafi government in Libya.

          Whatever. Too much smoke to tell.



          "Things come and go in the news cycle like waves of fever. A year ago Colonel Gaddafi was killed and an avalanche of camera phone footage of his last minutes was played again and again on the news channels. Then it stopped - and Gaddafi disappeared off into the dark.

          "What remains is all the footage recording Gaddafi's forty year career as a global weirdo. But the closer you look at the footage and what lies behind it - you begin to discover an odd story that casts a rather unflattering light on many of the elites in both the British and American establishments."

    6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Airspace

      Yes, and in addition the US doesn't have transit lounges - so if your plane needs to refuel in Miami going from S America to Europe you need to have a US visa.

      It's one of the selling points of the new Boeing 7E7 that it can do most of S America to europe/middle east without going through the US.

      It's had to consider yourself part of the new BRIC economy if you have to ask the old economy's permission to travel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Airspace

        We don't have lounges because we don't allow via-less transit, even between connecting flights. The UK is not really any better: both nations require all transit passengers to proceed through normal border checks. I knew an American who had overstayed on a previous visit to the UK; she was intercepted, detained in transit, and forbidden to travel onward to Europe. After a lengthy interview, they banned her for something like 15 years and put her on the next flight home. So it goes in the brave new world.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Airspace

      I guess it all depends on just how badly the government of the country being flown over wants the person in question. In theory, under current practices, governments do have that right.

      But it you'd think diverting the route of a flight to avoid entering U.S. airspace would be something airlines would be prepared to do when necessary.

    8. Tom 13

      Re: Airspace

      The key word here is "airspace" which has a technical international definition, and yes, the country controls its own airspace. If you fly outside the airspace like the US did with the U2s for a while the only risk you run is whether or not you get shot down. But those are pretty much all military planes (IM3 not withstanding) anyway, and that's a different playing field. Commercial flights necessarily go through either national or international airspace.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Really it's just the airline schedules that are the problem. "

    No, fleeing to somewhere that has an extradition treaty with the USA was the problem, compounded by seemingly making a panicky flight to Russia and ending up with nowhere to go, short of someone giving him a free ride somewhere "safe", with an exotic flight path, that was the problem.

  11. The Man Himself Silver badge

    in transit

    If he's technically in neutral ground right now in Moscow, would he not be in similarly neutral ground (and so safe from the local authorities) if he transited through any other airport on a connecting flight?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. smudge

        Re: in transit

        Airport border guards have the right to police the zone behind the border ... otherwise they would be glorious hotspots of the drug trade and replete with trafficked prostitutes.

        That would be better than all these bloody shops! Wouldn't mind delays then....

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: smudge Re: in transit

          ".....That would be better than all these bloody shops! Wouldn't mind delays then...." Just imagine the next time they had an overbooked flight - "We have a ticket for the next flight and vouchers for four blondes for whomever gives up their seat..."

        2. Tom 35

          Re: in transit

          "That would be better than all these bloody shops! Wouldn't mind delays then...."

          If they charge $12 for 6 oz of coke (the fizzy kind) and $18 for a hotdog. Just think what the prices would be...

          1. dssf

            Re: in transit SomeTIMES you FEEHEEEL Like a NUT,WAOOWW WAOOW SOME


            Times you don't...

            Just put your peter and pawl into an ahhh mound of joy, you'll part with the money if stuck in a trans sit lounge, hjehehehe

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: in transit

          Have you seen the way the price of everything is jacked up when you go airside? It would cost you a monkey for the most basic of personal services, the sort you can get behind a skip in Luton for £20.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: zone behind the border

        What border? What neutrality? Airports, all of them, are in the country that they are in, not some sort of international grey area. There is no border. There may be lines drawn for administrative purposes of immigration or customs, but there is no border.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. BongoJoe

          Re: zone behind the border

          Exactly. Which is why in America-land one has to go through Immigration even if one is now going outside the airport, ie jeting off elsewhere.

          They don't have the concept of transit (which makes that film with Tom Hanks doubly unbelievable*) unlike most other countries because having 'transit' is admistratively easler that way.

          *Getting off with KZJ is the first

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: in transit

      like embassies on foreign soil, presumably the neutrality is governed by convention and a desire to keep things simple rather than any real immunity from interference

    3. NullReference Exception

      Re: in transit

      As was pointed out in the article, some countries (including the US and Canada) require that everyone go through border control regardless of whether or not you are connecting to another flight, and the airports are designed to funnel all arriving international passengers directly to the border control area. There is no neutral zone.

      1. dssf

        Re: in transit A zone, by any other name

        A zone, by any other name

        You forgot the ROM-u-LAN (u- union) new trawl (not troll) zone. Plenty of face-snapping in them.

  12. Pen-y-gors
    Big Brother

    I would be very worried...

    well, even more worried than I am anyway, if HMG tried to force down an airliner overflying the UK just because Snowden was on board - Osama Bin Laden perhaps, but not Snowden. And what grounds would they have? Has the US already sent an extradition request/wanted-dead-or-alive-poster to the UK?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Pen-y-gors Re: I would be very worried...

      ".... if HMG tried to force down an airliner overflying the UK ....." They don't have to force it down, they just refuse it transit through UK airspace, which means the plane has to make a massive detour, eating up lots of fuel, or more likely returning to Russia. Trying to go south of UK airspace takes the route into Europe, who probably would also block it, or north over the Artic risks entering Canadian or Yank airspace.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Pen-y-gors I would be very worried...

        In which case Moscow just turns a tap and all the lights and heat go off in Britain

        We might be a US client state politically - but the USSR (sorry Gasprom) owns our energy.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Yet Another Anonymous coward Re: Pen-y-gors I would be very worried...

          "....Moscow just turns a tap and all the lights and heat go off in Britain...." Snowden just isn't that big a deal for the Russians to do anything of the kind, otherwise Snowden would already be in Russia and not stuck in the transit area.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Yet Another Anonymous coward Pen-y-gors I would be very worried...

            I meant if the UK decided to force down a civil Russian airline.

            We might have jet fighters but we don't have any coal mines

      2. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Pen-y-gors I would be very worried...

        Depends whether the driver knows where he/she is going.

        I flew from Cork (Irish Republic) to Heathrow. The driver announced we were passing over Brecon (mid-Wales). I looked out of the window and we were flying over Cardiff (S. Wales coast) where I grew up, so I knew the place.

        For the rest of the flight I was wondering where we would land.

        Oh, and this whole exercise is just a stunt by the USA since everyone who was anyone (i.e. THEM but not US) knew what was happening anyway. What the real aim is, is anyone's guess, though. That's why the Russian interrogation is taking so long.

  13. mmeier

    A the poor lil traitor - not even Russia wants to exchange his hard stolen "not so secrets" for a job with the RSF, a nice appartment and a lifetime supply of wodka.

    1. Justicesays
      Black Helicopters

      Wouldnt look good.

      I'm sure the Chinese or the Russians have thought about offering him a new identity or political asylum or whatever.

      But giving him that would ruin his usefulness as a fresh faced idealist fighting against his oppressive government, as the US would immediately label him as being a spy for whomever takes him in, and that he has been working to undermine them all along.

      And I assume he would also reject the offer for the same reasons, as he wants his messages to be undiluted with accusations of actual espionage.

      Plus its probably more fun to be able to give the US the finger for a while, and then be able to make the long term issues someone else problem.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tom 13

        Re: he wants his messages to be undiluted with accusations of actual espionage.

        Too late for that. Telling the Chinese the NSA hacked them is espionage. It might be good espionage (whistle blower) or bad espionage (traitor), but under law it is espionage.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >"A the poor lil traitor "

      Traitor to whom? His country-folk, or his state? Just how the hell does democracy have any legitimacy if the electorate do not have access to the facts? See "engineered consent" FFS.

      1. mmeier

        To the state. That is what counts in a court. As soon as the material reads "For internal use only" and you give it to someone outside - it is treason.

        Moral has nothing to do with the law. Moral actions can be illegal and illegal options can be morally(Think shooting Jews and shooting Hitler 1933-45 - the former was legal in germany, the latter morally). The old prussian concept was "Do what your moral demands and accept the consequences". Maybe people like Manning and Snowden should take a hint from Stauffenberg and others...

  14. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Treaties smeeties

    The trouble with Venezuela is its proximity to ** of *.

    A suitable flat-top with some special ops copters could easily do a snatch no?

    In which case: treaties-smeaties

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: Treaties smeeties

      The same applies for Ecuador as well. In fact, I'm not sure I'd feel safe *anywhere* within Latin America; until recently, that was the CIA's backyard. Then again, that's why a few US-unfriendly governments have popped up there in recent years as well...

  15. druck Silver badge

    Not always great circle

    Commercial flights don't always follow the great circle routes, they take in to account the varying path of jet streams, to (if possible) avoid headwinds and take advantage of tailwinds, which can be over 100kts and make quite a bit of difference to the fuel usage. It's why UK to US flights take a more northerly route to avoid the North Atlantic west to east jet stream, but US to UK flights fly further sound to get the benefit of the tail wind.

    Although jet streams are unlikely to have much of an effect on Moscow to Cuba or Venezuela flights, (especially at this time of the year when it's closer to the pole), Snowden might be sitting tight, waiting for a particularly unusual weather patten which would require Aeroflot to slightly divert a flight eastwards when approaching US airspace.

  16. Anal Leakage

    Why doesn't Larry and Steve fly him over in the luxury of a hammock-bedecked 767? After all, Google embodies Freedom Truth Liberty and Freedom.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Because they would most likely expect a little display of courtesy back. But for some reason I doubt that Google would consider it a bonus if Snowden started to advertise for them ;)

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Anal Leakage

      "Why doesn't Larry and Steve fly him over in the luxury of a hammock-bedecked 767? After all, Google embodies Freedom Truth Liberty and Freedom." Probably because that would land them with a charge of espionage in helping Snowden evade arrest. In fact, it will be interesting to see how the Wikileaks "lawyers" are treated seeing as I'm not sure they get immunity from prosecution just by claiming to be his lawyers.

      1. John Deeb

        Re: Anal Leakage

        Matt Bryant "it will be interesting to see how the Wikileaks "lawyers" are treated seeing as I'm not sure they get immunity from prosecution".

        Perhaps because any American charges of "helping someone charged with espionage" wouldn't mean much elsewhere in the world? Or in the States for that matter unless the criminal nature of someone's actions would be found beyond dispute which obviously it is not. Next thing would be charging the group of high profile journalists helping him to get his story out? But it's still a thorny subject, reason why publicly Assange hasn't been charged yet with anything in the US either even while in court evidence was presented of some assistance given to Manning.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: John Deeb Re: Anal Leakage

          "....Perhaps because any American charges of "helping someone charged with espionage" wouldn't mean much elsewhere in the world?...." Not if they ever visit the States or possibly even any country with an extradition treaty:

          United States Code (U.S.C.), section two of title 18:

          (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

          (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

          I wouldn't put it past the States to snap up any of the Wikileaks "advisers" and "escorts" given the chance, if only to make an example of them. Journos probably get more cover by their trade.

          1. dssf

            Re: John Deeb Anal Leakage MOTU?,


            Unless the CIA and NSA have officially become or attained status of Masters Of The Uniwerse", Title 18 means f*ck all to the space-faring occupants of any of the Gliese planets (if any exist).

            It would be an interesting exercise to (if it were true, and playing out) see the US or any country try to apply the laws of espionage to beings that are superior to us umm, I mean YOU...

            (Wait, where's my quantum escape transporter.... This world is nuttier by the hour...Dammit, the pattern buffer is malfunctioning again.... What an ass of an assignment... Earth...)

          2. Tom 13

            Re: I wouldn't put it past the States to snap up

            And well we should.

            Lawyers however have special legal dispensations. They are permitted to use the law to protect their clients to the fullest extent of the law.

            Which is why I still contend that if he were the patriot he claims to be, he would never have gotten on a plane to Hong Kong. First flight would have been to the mainland with his girlfriend for a vacation. He would have leaked the information to journalists and had his ACLU lawyers lined up right afterward. Then when charges were filed against him, his lawyers would have escorted him from his undisclosed location to the court house where not only the DA but the whole press corp would have been waiting his arrival. Good publicity was his best defense and he shot it to hell when he fled to Hong Kong. Now that he's in Russia you can stick a fork in it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just listened to BBC R4 The MeeJah Show

    16:30 – 17:00 The Media Show 26/06/2013 The future of Rupert Murdoch's News UK; coverage of the Guardian's scoops; change at BBC1.

    The program concluded that The Grauniad was spending too much time on the NSA/Snowden stories and that the lack of comment on the NSA/Snowden stories in the rest of UK media was because it was all a bit technical.

    A once in a decade invocation of the "D-Notice" (Defence Advisory system) wasn't considered of interest (OK, wasn't mentioned or alluded to in any way,) and the BBC felt that it's brief coverage of the matter was deservedly full & complete. Well Done BBC, trebles all round!

    The fact that the various systems that are being described by Snowden - although admittedly technical - have societal, sociological & security balance implications ought to keep at least BBCs Moral Maze discussing the situation for weeks - this is total dominance of IPv4 that we're witnessing.

    Soon with the 'internet of things' the identity and whereabouts of anything over twenty quid in value will be determinate. Is spookland gearing-up for total IPv6 dominance such that not just identity, location but all digital interactions from these terminals are recorded & analysed forever?

    Personally I guess that Ed is on the Trans-Siberia-Express - just passing Baikal (which he can see thru the gap in the guards-van doors) then it'll be a slow boat to the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) and dropping off the grid.

    Meanwhile whackyleaks will try and monetize his NSA news to the world's media - except our Albion, here it's just not that interesting it seems!

    1. Maty

      Re: I just listened to BBC R4 The MeeJah Show

      Don't get carried away by the 'once in a decade D-notice' - many magazines and newspapers routinely inquire whether something they are considering publishing will attract a D-notice, and if advised it would, they don't publish.


      1. Not That Andrew

        Re: I just listened to BBC R4 The MeeJah Show

        As far as I'm aware, about the only media outlets that don't do this as a matter of routine are Private Eye and the Grauniad; and I'm sure they both still do it on occasion.

        1. Kit-Fox

          Re: I just listened to BBC R4 The MeeJah Show

          Doesnt Private Eye only do it if they get a court order?

          I believe the reply for them to do something without being expressed told by a court is;

          'please refer to to our response in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram'

          IE; F*** Off

          After all Ian Hislop isnt the most sued man in the UK for nothing

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I just listened to BBC R4 The MeeJah Show

      I didn't take the conclusion of the Media Show as Snowden's leaks being too technical... a conclusion isn't their style. Curious that all the media attention is focused on the fate of a single man, as opposed to looking at the implications of what he leaked.

      Probably the reason that the reaction to Snowden's leaked info hasn't raised too many eyebrows is that most people kinda suspected it was all going on anyway.

      The response given in the case Arkell Vs Pressdam was when Private actually had evidence, as opposed to hearsay... normally they are happy to publish and be damned. There is a good tradition of 'Eye-told-you-so, as they are often vindicated years or decades after being successfully sued. l Vs Pressdam was when Private actually had evidence, as opposed to hearsay... normally they are happy to publish and be damned. There is a good tradition of 'Eye-told-you-so, as they are often vindicated years or decades after being successfully sued.

  18. Anonymous C0ward

    Could they send him over the Pacific? Or via the Middle East or Africa?

  19. apleszko

    Mr. Scotty

    Beam me up!

  20. Hypnotist

    The SU flight from Moscow to Havana may usually fly over the US, but it clearly doesn't always do so:

  21. Hcobb


    Moscow to Iran four flights a week then Iran to Venezuela three flights a week.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Iran

      "....then Iran to Venezuela...." The problem with that is that the route would probably traverse either European airspace, fly past the US Fleet in the Med or Gulf, or pass over a country or two that the US has previosuly used for renditions......

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Iran

        Mornington Crescent!

    2. MacroRodent

      Re: Iran

      Or stay in Iran. Just to annoy Uncle Sam, they would be very unlikely to extradite him. If one had to pick a country for permanent exile, Iran would not be a too bad choice. The country is large and varied, lots of things to do to fill your remaining days.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Iran

        he has no passport though. Possibly transit papers to ecuador as a refugee but no passport.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: MacroRodent Re: Iran

        "Or stay in Iran...." Actually a brilliant suggestion! Nothing would be more likely to make a confirmed believer in human rights and privacy want to return to the States than spending a few years in that oppressive Islamic Republic. Do you happen to be a very sneaky CIA employee, perchance?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm - isn't Ecuador's foreign minister in Vietnam? Seems logical thing would be to fly to Vietnam and jump aboard said FM's jet back to South America?? Or would the Vietnamese actually extradite him to the US themselves?

  23. UKLooney

    GAZelle limo ride to Stupino, then a Tupolev Tu-134 to Cuba

    GAZelle limo ride to Stupino, then a Tupolev Tu-134 to Cuba, 5 flights a week.

  24. Spook

    Flight path

    I don't see why the plane doesn't just fly in a straight line across the Atlantic, thus avoiding US airspace.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flight path

      Great. Circle. Route.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Flight path

        >I don't see why the plane doesn't just fly in a straight line across the Atlantic, thus avoiding US airspace.

        On a flat planet that might work. Meanwhile, back on this squished sphere we call home, you're going to require a curve.

  25. goldcd

    I'd wondered why he went to HK

    Although thinking about what happened, it might make some sense.

    I assume what he wants to avoid is legal extradition, or extraordinary rendition. Avoiding extradition isn't too hard, but the US have got pretty good at the second. Best defence on that count is to ensure that it would not be politically acceptable - get some good publicity out there (he's blown the whistle on something that's unconstitutional, but as far as I'm aware hasn't put people at risk). Then maybe get some backing from some large non-US countries. They get to host him for a while and demonstrate their commitment to free-speech and raise some pertinent pot/kettle questions with the US. He then moves on before it gets too diplomatically sticky.

    e.g. Whilst I'm not expecting China to offer him refuge, if the US were to take any action against him, I'm sure the accusations the US has been making to China about their own dissidents might pop up.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Since nobody has actually seen Snowden leaving Hong Kong or entering Russia......

    My theory is that he is on a junk from Hong Kong to Ecuador! Probably just passing Okinawa right now :)

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Since nobody has actually seen Snowden leaving Hong Kong or entering Russia......

      Exactly. Has anyone checked Cathay Pacific's HK / Venezuela passenger manifests for the past few days?

  27. JohnG

    Mr Putin didn't actually say that Snowden was at Sheremetyevo airport - he said that Snowden had not crossed the Russian border and that he is a transit passenger.

    Passengers on the flight from Hong Kong reported that the flight was met airside by a limousine, which some believed to have been a diplomatic car from the Ecuadorian embassy. If this is the case, Snowden may well be at the Ecuadorian embassy, having not officially crossed the Russian border or set foot on Russian soil - and he may stay there until they can figure out the logistics and paperwork.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Play dead

    In a sealed coffin (with an oxygen tank and long underwear). Marked as cargo. Doesn't show up on any list.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a u-boat

    russisch, natuerlich

  30. LaeMing

    No, I'm Snowden, and so is my wife.

    Anyone else get the impression that Snowden is nowhere near any of the countries claiming to be hosting him? All having a jolly good time playing "Where's Eddie" at the US's expense.

  31. Richard_L

    You know how aircraft can be diverted when a "drunken" passenger engages in some rowdy, aggressive or threatening behaviour that is considered by the pilot to be "endangering the safety of the aircraft". Well, lets say such a "drunken" passenger happened to be present on Snowdon's eventual flight from Moscow, and that he chose to kick off just as it approached UK airspace thus forcing it to divert to a UK* airport.

    Would we remove him from that flight when we realised that, entirely by chance, he was on the very aircraft that had so misfortunately been forced to divert?

    *(or an airport of some other European nation friendly with the US)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the problem with boats the US Navy. They would have weeks to find him, then it's a simple matter of stopping the ship in international waters and taking Snowden off it. Shooting down a commercial airliner isn't an option... even our government isn't *quite* that despotic yet.

    1. Mitoo Bobsworth

      Re: the problem with boats

      "Shooting down a commercial airliner isn't an option... even our government isn't *quite* that despotic yet."

      This could be worth considering then -

      Official site -

      1. jabuzz

        Re: the problem with boats

        Actually I think you will find that the USA is quite capable of shooting down a passenger airline, and it does not even need to be in international air space for them to do that.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long to recover from plastic surgery?

    How long does it take to recover from plastic surgery that alters one face? Add some pigment/coloring and time in a tanning booth for extremities. Curl and dye hair. Footwear that changes one's gait. Contact lenses for eye color and iris pattern. Wouldn't fool a genuine physical examination but might foil Hi-Def crowd surveillance gear.

    In the meantime, WikiLeaks finds a dozen or so look-alikes of the original (and one or two of Snowden_2.0) and books them on flights here, there, and everywhere, some of which go through Sheremetyevo.

    But wherever he winds up, it'll need be somewhere that the US would be mighty reluctant to hit with a drone strike. Obama personally reviews those kill lists but we know what he thinks about Snowden, and we know that US citizenship and due process don't mean much if you're on those lists.

    The sad thing is, all the drama is playing to what the US wants. Pay no attention to the massive surveillance apparatus behind the cur ... Look, a spy chase!

    1. dssf

      Re: How long to recover from plastic surgery?

      No... Just throw simultaneous regional sci fi or ComiCon conventions. He could then with prosthetics and no real surgery be any one or more of around 200 alien species roaming the halls, using public transit, and maybe even get to getaway vvehicles.

      I am pretty sure that sci fi conventions occur in Japan, given all the manga, anime, and stuff between (whatever's left going on in) Akihabara, Harajuku, and Tokyo Big Sight. Dunno about Korea or Hong Kong. But, ninjas (Asian and white) would be in abundance if someone threw a show in a week or two.

      This could be a NEW type of "Fugitive" dramasode...

  34. Seven_Spades

    He needs to go by sea.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The Snowden flights boardgame

    "A number of questions surround Snowden’s movements. Perhaps the most obvious is why didn’t he get to Ecuador or somewhere else safe before revealing all to Guardian journalists"

    This is totally irrelevant as to how-and-why the NSA is hoovering-up all our Internet activity - without a search warrant ...

  36. 2Fat2Bald

    It would be interesting...

    What if the Russian airliner DID take off with Snowden on board, fly over the US of A?

    By "Forced Down" I take you you mean "Threatened with shoot-down if they didn't land at a base nominated by the USAF". Which is fine. Until the airliner captain responds "No... I can't land there.... I have orders... And runway is too short....I would be violating the rights of my passengers by exposing them to arrest and transfer to git'mo".

    THEN what? - do you order the F16 jock to shoot down an airliner full of a mix of Russian & Chinese Businessmen and international journalists? OR do you let the Airliner carry on it's merry way, happilly ignoring the symbols of US power (IE the fighter jets) like they don't actually matter because you've got an stroppy nerd on board?

    1. NorthernCoder
      Black Helicopters

      Re: It would be interesting...

      A guess could be that the threat would be more like "Land now, or your airline won't get a flight into this country for a very long time".

  37. Rol

    Rendition him

    It worked for the bastions of democracy, so why not have him whisked away under the same conditions to Ecuador.

    Fight the cistern before we all get flushed down it.

  38. gkroog
    Thumb Up

    Why not just go to Iceland?

    If he can't get to Ecuador/Venezuela/Cuba, why not go to Iceland if he can get there safely? It seems very nice there...and the plane could lose them in an ash cloud if the American cavalry comes to bring democracy down on Snowden's head.

    Regarding whether Putin would hand Snowden over, I watched a British politician insulting our intelligence by questioning Snowden's commitment to freedom of speech when he's willing to hide out in China/Russia/Cuba, etc, and that he should show his support for free speech by standing trial in the US.

    Yes, like the US would even entertain letting Snowden blab all before a court: he'd ever see a fair trial. Don't be mislead: they're no better than China/Russia/Cuba, and just as happy to sidestep due process if the fancy takes them:

  39. gkroog

    This could all be smoke and mirrors...

    I've just seen an article suggesting he may be in Iceland already:

  40. Bells

    Quickest way from Russia to US?

    A remodelled ICBM with MIRV seats..shame assange is in UK.

  41. Allonymous Coward


    All the Russian government needs to do is declare his transit hotel capsule at Sheremetyevo airport an extension of the Ecuadorian embassy.

    Anything's got to be better than getting on a plane to Caracas. I've been there. I've also been to Hull, Luton and Slough, and Caracas is worse than at least two of them.

  42. Anonymous Coward


    Nuclear submarine all the way from Russia to Ecuador. Total stealth, no chance of detection and certainly not interception. Snowden is probably on it already, which is why he's not been seen at the airport for days.

    Of course Russia probably wouldn't want the world to know it gave Snowden a lift on a nuclear sub. Just hope he's the kind of guy who can keep a secret ;)

    1. mmeier

      Re: submarine

      Nuc subs are not totally stealthy, even less russian ones. And for the rest - minefield! Set low enough so the sub either needs to surface or runs in it. Problem solved.

  43. tonysofla

    SBA Airlines (main base is Simón Bolívar International Airport)

    flies from Spain Tenerife - Tenerife North Airport,

    Wonder of Venezuela president could order the plane to do a quick stop in Morocco first,

    before heading back west?

    If Snowden fly Moscow-Teheran-Morocco first of course

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: tonysofla

      "SBA Airlines (main base is Simón Bolívar International Airport) flies from Spain Tenerife - Tenerife North Airport...." Tenerife is Spanish territory, and Spain does have an extradition agreement with the US.

      ".....If Snowden fly Moscow-Teheran-Morocco first of course." Whilst Morocco doesn't have a formal extradition treaty with the US (AFAIK, my knowledge may be out of date since the Arab Spring) but many of the countries between Iran and Morocco do (Iraq and Egypt, for example), so there is no guarantee that Snowden's flight wouldn't be refused over-flight if they suspected he was onboard. For Snowden, attempted over-flight of any EU country or any with an extradition agreement with the US is probably a very bad idea. It's really going to screw up his frequent flier program.

      I suspect that the minute he hit Moscow the US authorities were busy working out all his possible routes and preparing ready-to-go extradition requests for all the possible countries Snowden might have to pass through from Moscow. And, of course, the US isn't just restricted to those countries with extradition treaties as many that don't have formal agreements with the US - such as Qatar or Tunisia - would probably be quite willing to bow to a request from the US. Even his rather incompetent Wikileaks legal advisers can probably work that one out.

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