Edward Snowden sent a plane full of journalists on a wild goose chase from Moscow to Havana on Monday morning.
The journalists jumped on the Aeroflot flight after word got out that the NSA leaker, who is reportedly trying to get to Ecuador, would be on it. A BBC reporter said that "around two dozen" members of the media had been trying to board the flight.
Unfortunately for them (and their companies' budgets), they got on the plane, but Snowden didn't. Instead, he apparently managed to flummox the entire world and avoid capture by the American government--again.
The Guardian's Miriam Elder wrote about the lengths reporters were willing to go to nab some face-time with Snowden, who has given just two interviews—one with Glenn Greenwald and one with the South China Morning Post—since he made his identity public:
As the plane started to board, more than a dozen Aeroflot agents converged on the gate and ushered reporters away from the windows.
They threatened to confiscate cameras and telephones, and attempted to block the view. Some journalists said they were ready to hide their telephones in their pants. Anything for a snap of Snowden.
One by one, the journalists got on board – all the world's media, and Russia's too. The line dwindled to a crawl and the Aeroflot agents began to whisper: "He's not on board."
There was little left for the reporters to do except to tweet forlorn images of Snowden's empty seat:
There were also complaints about the lack of liquor on the plane.
The empty seat inevitably spawned its own parody Twitter account:
Some American journalists were ironic beneficiaries of the restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba; the New York Times said they were ejected from the flight.