Snowden Snow Job: Leaker Fools Reporters on to Cuba Flight Without Him

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden was supposed to be on Aeroflot Flight 180 from Moscow to Havana. He wasn't. But "dozens" of journalists are. It just took off. And there's no booze service on board. Welcome to the Cuban Whistleblower Crisis.

Since Snowden's purported arrival in Moscow yesterday, scores of journalists have been staking out Sheremetyevo Airport, hoping to catch the 29 30-year-old (happy birthday Ed!) ex-contractor as he left Russia, possibly with an eventual destination in Ecuador, where he's reportedly seeking asylum. When Russian media reported that he'd booked a ticket on Aeroflot Flight 180 to Havana, Cuba, a number of them did the journalistic thing and booked tickets as well.

Only: Snowden never showed.

Standing next to Edward Snowden's seat on flight to Cuba. He ain't here. pic.twitter.com/NVRH3Pzved

— max seddon (@maxseddon) June 24, 2013

And now, in a national-security version of the Rihanna plane, journalists from AP, AFP, BBC and NBC News, among others, are trapped on a 12-hour flight from Moscow to Cuba. It gets worse:

* Starting from Feb 10, 2010, the sale of alcohol is suspended on flights to/from Havana, Bangkok, Shanghai, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Yuzhno-Sahalinsk, and Khabarovsk.

And worse (or, really, better?): Thanks to travel regulations in Cuba, they'll have to stay there three days before they'll be allowed to fly back. At least they've got decent entertainment options? (North by Northwest! Tarkovsky's Solaris! Episodes of Friends!)

As for Snowden himself, there's little evidence he was even in Russia in the first place (a passenger on the Hong Kong to Moscow flight he was said to have taken told the AP he saw Snowden), and if he was, a source "familiar with Snowden's situation" tells Interfax that he likely left the country already.