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Moscow newspaper: Snowden stayed at Russian Consulate in Hong Kong

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

MOSCOW — Before American fugitive Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June — an arrival that Russian officials have said caught them by surprise — he spent several days living in the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, a Moscow newspaper reported on Monday.

The article in Kommersant, based on accounts from several unnamed sources, did not state clearly when Snowden decided to seek Russian help in leaving Hong Kong, where he was in hiding to evade arrest by U.S. authorities on charges that he leaked top-secret documents about surveillance programs.

Snowden arrived in Moscow on June 23 and spent more than a month stranded at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Kommersant reported that Snowden purchased a ticket June 21 to travel from Hong Kong to Havana, through Moscow.

He planned to fly onward from Havana to Ecuador or some other Latin American country.

That same day, he celebrated his 30th birthday at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, the paper said.

Kommersant cited conflicting accounts as to what brought Snowden to the consulate, on the 21st floor of a skyscraper in a fashionable neighborhood. It quoted a Russian as saying the former NSA contractor arrived on his own initiative and asked for help. But a Western official alleged that Russia had invited him.

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