Where's Waldo? Snowden Moscow Airport Edition

Edward Snowden's father, Lonnie Snowden, is making headlines for proposing a deal for his son's return to the United States.

"I love him. I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him," Lonnie Snowden told NBC.

Snowden said he doesn't believe his son is a traitor, and argued that even though Snowden betrayed his government, he did not betray the people of the United States. Lonnie Snowden is currently seeking his son's return to the United States, under the conditions that Snowden would not be jailed or imprisoned before trial, would not be subject to a gag order, and would be "tried in a venue of his choosing."

Meanwhile, Ian Phillips, a reporter for The Associated Press, had a very different goal in mind when he flew from his home base in Prague to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport this week.

"I deliberately got myself sequestered in the hopes of finding Edward Snowden at Moscow's main airport," Phillips writes.

"One wing [of the Sheremetyevo Airport]... lies within the airport's transit zone - a kind of international limbo that is not officially Russian territory," he explains. "And that's where Snowden, whose U.S. passport has been revoked, may be hiding."

Phillips' account of his "Orwellian adventure" is a trip. Here are the highlights.

  • Phillips would not make a very good covert agent. "The woman at the transit desk raises an eyebrow and stares at my flight itinerary, which includes a 21-hour layover in Moscow before a connection to Ukraine. 'Why would ANYONE stay here in transit for so long? There are so many earlier connections you could have taken. This is strange behavior.'"
  • The reporter paid $450 to pretty much be jailed in an "airless room" in the transit zone wing of the airport. When a guard allowed him to stretch his legs in the corridor, Phillips saw a wall sign that read, "Should you wish to see the full range of facilities offered by our hotel during your next stay, we strongly recommend you to get a visa before flying to Moscow." Gotta love that Russian sense of humor.
  • Phillips describes the room service menu reserved for those staying in the sequestered section of the airport. Check it out—you might be eyeing what Edward Snowden's eating for dinner tonight:

"Buffalo mozzarella and pesto dressing starter: 720 rubles (about $20).

Ribeye steak: 1,500 rubles (about $50).

Bottle of Brunello di Montalcino red wine: 5,280 rubles ($165).

A miniature bottle of Hennessy XO cognac: 2,420 rubles ($80)."

...So, if we're keeping score, I think we're around: Edward Snowden: 1. Lonnie Snowden: 0. Ian Phillips: -$450.