Feeds

CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to SNATCH SNOWDEN

Unmarked Gulfstream tracked as it passed above UK

Security for virtualized datacentres

Snowden might have found himself sitting in the same seat as Abu Hamza

At the time, Washington was demanding that Moscow should hand over the fleeing Snowden into US custody.

"We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr Snowden back to the US to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged," a National Security Council spokeswoman told reporters. The US also urged countries in the "Western Hemisphere" not to let him in.

The black jet is actually white.

The Kremlin's response, however, was a big "nyet". Russia's Interfax News quoted government sources as saying:

"Snowden has not committed any crimes on Russian territory ... Russian law-enforcement agencies have received no instructions through Interpol to detain him. So we have no grounds."

N977GA has a chequered history. It was originally ordered by the US Air Force for use as a general's flying gin-palace. But then, shortly after 9/11, it lost its military livery and acquired civilian registration as N596GA. Under that designation it was employed in CIA "renditions" - or kidnappings. In 2011, the "black" jet switched roles again, transferring from the CIA's contractor to use instead by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

With its new tail number N977GA the plane became part of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation Systems (JPATS), operated by US Marshals. On perhaps its best-known mission, the jet flew a team of marshals into the UK on 5 October 2012 to collect radical cleric Abu Hamza after the USA won an extradition order against him.

Only Vladimir Putin's intransigence saved Snowden from a similar travel package, complete with free one-way ticket home and fitting for a stylish new orange outfit. Abu Hamza was last seen waving goodbye from a back window on N977GA.

According to Mr Snowden's colleagues, if the Russians knew that an American team was on its way to bring him home, they did not warn him. In the event the "black" (actually white) Gulfstream and its posse of marshals got no further than Copenhagen as US negotiations with the Kremlin failed to prosper. But Snowden remains in Russia to this day - and potentially for the rest of his life.

The US Department of Justice did not respond to our requests for information regarding N977GA and its purpose in heading to Europe on 24 June last year. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.