June 25 - Wanted U.S. contractor Edward Snowden did not show up for a flight from Russia to Cuba, as Washington exerts further pressure on Russia for his extradition. Jessica Gray reports.
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An Aeroflot flight landed in Cuba on Monday, without a former security contractor who leaked details of widespread U.S. surveillance programs.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED AEROFLOT PILOT, SAYING:
"No special passengers, no, no, nobody only journalists on board (laughs)."
Snowden announced the leaks via video from Hong Kong, before flying to a Moscow airport following U.S. demands for his extradition on espionage charges.
Sources suggested he was set to fly to Cuba and then possibly Ecuador in an attempt to seek asylum.
But the seat allegedly reserved for him remained empty.
Snowden's current whereabouts are a mystery, although some suspect he is still in international transit at Moscow airport,
The U.S. has poured diplomatic pressure on Russia to hand him over.
But on Tuesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Snowden was not on Russian soil and rejected Washington's move.
"He independently chose his route, and we learned as did everyone else from the media," said the minister. "He did not cross the Russian border, and we think all of the attempts that were are now witnessing, attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating U.S. law and almost conspiring, accompanied by threats towards us are totally unfounded and unacceptable."
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been aiding Snowden, said the 30 year old had fled to Moscow en route to Ecuador and is in a safe place.
Snowden may also have a refugee document of passage from Ecuador.