If Snowden Is in Russia, He's in This Weird Hotel Wing

AP's Ian Phillips gets to experience 'surreal' place firsthand
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2013 2:47 PM CDT
If Snowden Is in Russia, He's in This Weird Hotel Wing
This photo taken June 26 shows a view of the Novotel Hotel in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. The hotel has a wing set aside for those without visas.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Where's Edward Snowden? Well, the best bet still seems to be that he remains in international limbo in the transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. With that in mind, AP reporter Ian Phillips decided to fly into the airport from his base in Prague, give himself a nearly daylong layover, and see what he could see. Did he find Snowden? Nope, but he provides an entertaining look at what Snowden's life might be like at the moment. As Phillips puts it, "he may already have a taste of what it's like to be in prison." Some highlights:

  • Phillips arrives at the airport, where his flight plan draws immediate suspicion from the transit desk. "Why would ANYONE stay here in transit for so long?" asks the woman. "This is strange behavior."
  • He gets bused to an ultra-secure wing of the airport's Novotel Hotel reserved for those without visas to enter Russia. It is technically not on Russian soil. This is where Snowden would be.
  • Rules are tight: Phillips has a guard posted outside his room, which he's not allowed to leave; he'll be escorted from the room one hour before his flight. Cameras in the hallway track everything.
  • If he's here, Snowden would get three international TV stations, plus access to pricey room service. A steak is $50 and a bottle of wine $165. (The room itself is $300.)
  • Phillips calls all 37 rooms on his floor on the chance Snowden will pick up. Nada. Ditto with the floor above.
  • After hours in his "lockup," Phillips gets permission to stretch his legs in the corridor and notices a sign that stings: "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."
Click for the full first-person story. (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)

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