Guardian liveblog:

‘Whereabouts of former CIA analyst whose leaks to Guardian have caused global controversy a mystery after he does not catch expected flight to Cuba’

Four hours ago:

Edward Snowden is expected to catch a plane today from Moscow to Cuba as he attempts to reach Ecuador and evade US attempts to have him extradited and tried on espionage charges.

Snowden – the former CIA analyst whose leaks to the Guardian about US intelligence programmes have caused controversy around the world – yesterday fled Hong Kong for Moscow after the authorities in the Chinese province said Washington’s provisional warrant did not fully comply with legal requirements. He had travelled to Hong Kong on 20 May as a base from which to reveal his secrets and his identity.

A representative of Russia’s Aeroflot airline told the Associated Press that Snowden registered for the flight to Havana that leaves Moscow today at 2.05pm (11.05am BST). He is expected to then leave Havana for Ecuador – the country that has granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London.

The airline says he registered for the flight on Sunday using his US passport – which American officials say has been annulled as part of an effort to prosecute him for revealing the highly classified government secrets.

Ecuador’s foreign minister said Sunday that Quito is considering his application for asylum.

Three hours ago Lidia Kelly tweeted that a VIP International van had pulled up near the plane just before its expected departure time, followed by ‘A guy in white shirt going up steps onto the plane.’

Eight minutes later from Miriam Elder, 4:15 AM – 24 Jun 2013:

Boarding is over. Aeroflot agent says Snowden not on plane.

Now the scrambling begins to sort out what was said by whom, what folks believed with little basis in fact, for instance that: apparently no one ever saw Snowden in Moscow at all, except a reporter from Interfax.  The briefest rundown from yesterday’s coverage:

Hong Kong’s original statement yesterday saying Edward Snowden had left the Chinese territory made no mention of Russia, saying only that he had gone to a “third country”:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today [June 23] of his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR [Hong Kong special administrative region] government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the US government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions.

As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong. The HKSAR government has already informed the US government of Mr Snowden’s departure.

Wikileaks, which says it has been assisting Snowden, and Aeroflot sources speaking to various news organisations both said he was going to Russia.

But no Russian officials ever confirmed he has arrived. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Guardian yesterday: “I don’t [know if he's planning to stay in Moscow]. I heard about his potential arrival from the press. I know nothing.”

Russian security personnel certainly swarmed around Sheremetyevo airport, and the Ecuadorian ambassador Patricio Chavez also turned up – asking “Do you know where he is? Is he coming here?”

Russian news agency Interfax also reported that a Venezuelan diplomat picked Snowden up when he arrived.

Aeroflot told the Associated Press this morning that he was registered for the Havana flight that left half an hour ago.’

Our first thoughts might be that holy crow, have these folks acted in concert to throw US officials off the scent.  Then…our second or third thoughts might be: OMG; is there a darker narrative at play that we should consider?  We know what this nation can and has done to those it has deemed as enemies to the state, so it’s hard not to imagine the worst sometimes.  That we aren’t hearing alarms raised by Wikileaks Friends must mean that the plans are unfolding well, and that he is still…okay.  And may he stay that way.

But in this case, it would seem that those of us who’d suspected that the announcements as to Snowden’s leaving Hong Kong, arriving in Moscow, and having booked a seat on an Aeroflot flight to Cuba…may have been brilliant, if complex, misdirections.  The only reason I can think of to have announced all his actual plans ahead of time would have been to make sure the world was watching just in case he had come to any harm.

For a review of what was supposed, known, and speculated as of yesterday morning, read Edward Teller’s great compilation.  RT coverage is here.

That Edward Snowden has well-wishers galore around the world by now is indisputable; how many officials from different nations had gleams in their eyes when questioned by the press?  Oh, and that flight to Cuba?  Just packed with press.  But oh, goddam: they couldn’t even get a drink on the flight.  No Snowden, no alcohol.  Bet that burned.

More coming on the liveblog, including statements by Quito’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca.  (I won’t dignify the ugly comments coming out of D.C. with quotes; they can all suck eggs.)

Well done, Mr. Snowden and Friends; and stay safe, all of you.  The world needs you all alive and well very badly.

If you haven’t already, do read this piece of Julian Assange’s in  support of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.  I don’t think it could have been better.

We wait with our collective breath held in hopes that events will unfold in such a way that great change for the better will be forthcoming.  Wake up, USians! Don’t keep letting our rulers get away with their evil deeds.  A change is gonna come, and you will need to find yourselves on the right side of history.  From the late, great Sam Cooke, Seal:

(cross-posted  at Cafe-Babylon.net)