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PRISM leaker strands hacks on booze-free flight

Unconfirmed claim: already in Iceland

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Declining to state just where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden went after dodging the press, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has issued a statement saying that Snowden is “healthy and safe”.

That statement was made to Agence France Presse (syndicated at News.com.au here), after a bunch of journalists accompanied an empty seat from Moscow to Cuba.

The game of “Where's Wally” has now become the focus of the saga, with Snowden himself staying away from microphones and therefore unavailable for any brand-new revelations; meanwhile, the press had to endure a long flight with no alcohol.

Wikileaks has stated that it's paying Snowden's bills for the time being, something which itself could turn problematic. The Daily Beast reports Assange confirmed that Wikileaks footed the bill for his flight to Moscow and for accommodation, adding that “No government or other organization assisted”.

With charges against Snowden already filed, The Daily Beast cites lawyers' opinions that Wikileaks has aided a fugitive, while others disagree on the basis that with no international arrest warrant issued for the leaker, there was no legal impediment to flying him between two non-US countries.

There's also speculation that his failure to leave Moscow could mean he is being held by Russian authorities pending a decision on whether or not to return him to the USA.

Snowden's no-show on the Cuban flight has left American officials confused and increasingly frustrated. The administration wants Russia to expel him, with secretary of state John Kerry saying: “In the last two years we have transferred seven prisoners to Russia that they wanted, so I think reciprocity and the enforcement of the law is pretty important”.

Snowden is known to have requested asylum from Ecuador, with Wikileaks saying he also contacted Iceland, according to this AAP report in Australia's Herald Sun. That report states that Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says Quito is weighing up Snowden's asylum bid.

Sixteen hours ago at the time of writing, the Pirate Party Norway claimed Snowden is already in Iceland, having slipped his pursuers.

Tale Østrådal from the Pirate Party told TV2 in Norway that the Icelandic party has confirmed his arrival. However, this is unreported anywhere else. ®

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