Update: This diary has been rendered obsolete by events, as Snowden has sought refuge in Ecuador.
Okay, so everyone who's followed the case so far knows the basics. Edward Snowden is the admitted source of major NSA whistleblowing leaks. He confirmed his identity, and also admitted that he would like to try to seek asylum in Iceland. Today, not long after he was indicted by the US, he took a commercial plane from Hong Kong to Moscow.
Now here's what possibly comes next. I say "possible" because I have no personal knowledge as to what Snowden is thinking, nor to what actions the US or Russia will take when his flight lands. But there are no direct flights from Hong Kong to Iceland and it's too far for a private plane to travel. There are direct commercial flights from Moscow, it's almost directly along a Great Circle route to Iceland, and it gives tons of possible intermediary stopovers, plus is close enough for some private planes. I don't think it's all that unreasonable to suspect that he might be attempting to make his way to Iceland to fight out the battle here.
And that's where we all come in. Because I work at the Reykjavík airport.
I'll admit, I have mixed feelings about Snowden, as I've written elsewhere. On one hand, he seems to be a self-aggrandizer, questions regarding the veracity of some of what he's reported have been raised, his alliance with Greenwald and potentially Assange doesn't win him brownie points in my book, and so forth. On the other hand, just the mere fact that the leaks occurred has elevated a debate on spying (not just in the US, but around the world) that had been sitting idle for far too long, and has encouraged others to talk about the various information collection programs as well. And to that, I'm thankful for him, all else aside.
And on a more basic note, it's scary moving to a new country where you don't know many people or speak the language well. It has to be an order of magnitude worse if you could be deported at any time to face serious criminal charges in the country you were trying to leave. While I expect Snowden to quickly develop a large base of support here due to what he's done (I can offhand name dozens of people here who I know would queue up just to shake his hand), I'd still like to help him feel welcome and settle in to whatever degree I can, regardless of how this whole situation plays out.
So here's what may be about to happen -and if it does seem that way and if there's any way for me to keep abreast of it, I'll attempt to liveblog it for you. I work in a small building beside the Reykjavík airport. If he comes by private plane, I may actually see it land (my window isn't perfectly aligned and there's some buildings in the way of the runway, but I could probably swing something to make sure I know when it gets here - if I knew what to look for). If he were to come by commercial jet, he would arrive at Keflavík, about 40 minutes away (I'd be willing to try to take time off work to head down there).
Want to take part? Here's what you can do:
1) Help me follow the story. Is he actually going to Iceland, or just Russia? When is he arriving in Russia? If he leaves to Iceland, when? On what kind of plane? What's the scheduled arrival time? Would it be possible to look up the aircraft ID or flight ID of the plane to help track it? Etc. If any news article covers this or anyone knows how to get such information, it would help stay on top of things.
2) Offer whatever you want. If he arrives and you want me to do something, let me know what. If you've got a message, for example, I could print it out or say it if I got a chance. If you had any questions, I could ask if there's an opportunity. If I should hold up a sign, let me know what. If there's something you'd like to buy him, if it's small enough I could buy it on my own, otherwise you could contact me and send me money to purchase it, or you could purchase it remotely and I could pick it up.
Keep me informed and I'll help keep you all informed!
Update 1, 11:15 BST: Snowden is aboard Aeroflot flight SU213, due to arrive in Moscow in 3 hours (2:15 PM BST). Wikileaks states that they are helping him to get asylum in "a democratic country and that he it traveling with a Wikileaks legal advisor. Russia says he has a connecting ticket to Havana, but it is unknown whether this is a diversion, and I suspect we won't know for 4-5 hours.
Moscow to Iceland is an 4 1/4 hour flight. Moscow to Cuba is a 13 1/2 hour flight.