Snowden in Moscow airport transit zone

A picture taken on June 24 shows the empty window seat 17A, which fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was scheduled to occupy/AFP

A picture taken on June 24 shows the empty window seat 17A, which fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was scheduled to occupy/AFP

MOSCOW, Jun 25 – The transit zone in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport where the fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been lying low since Sunday theoretically only allows transit passengers to stay for up to 24 hours without a Russian visa.

“While waiting for a connecting flight, foreign citizens can stay in Sheremetyevo airport for up to 24 hours without a Russian visa,” the airport’s website says.

A passenger must have a ticket for a connecting flight with a confirmed seat, the site adds.

Snowden arrived on an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong that landed at Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday afternoon.

Snowden had booked Seat 17A on an Aeroflot flight to Havana leaving Monday afternoon, according to records seen by AFP, but failed to board the plane to Cuba, from where he was expected to fly to Ecuador.

Russian authorities insist that Snowden has not crossed the Russian border and does not need a visa.

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Snowden came as a transit passenger, did not cross the state border and “does not need a visa or other documents.”

Snowden is believed to be staying at the Vozdushny Express, or Air Express, capsule hotel inside the transit zone at Sheremetyevo in its Terminal E.

An economy room at the hotel costs 7,600 rubles (Sh19,860) for 24 hours. The hotel’s website promises “absolute security” for its guests with electronic locks on the doors and keys that are individually programmed for each guest.

The hotel’s website says that the maximum stay allowed in the capsule hotel in the “cleared zone in Terminal E” is 24 hours. However, its listed tariffs suggest that it is possible to pay for extra hours.

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