NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appears to be trapped on a semi-permanent basis in the Moscow airport’s “transit” section, with no passport to allow him to leave and no chance of getting his asylum request processed by Ecuador unless he can make it to an embassy.
You can be in the “transit” section of an international airport indefinitely without a passport, and while laws vary from nation to nation very few will allow you to enter the country without one, or fly anyplace else for that matter.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa confirmed the situation, saying his country’s laws only allow for an asylum request to be submitted on their “soil,” which would include the Moscow embassy. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also confirmed Snowden remains trapped.
Its less than 30 km, but it might as well be a lifetime away for all the good that does Snowden, unless Russia decides to let him leave the airport long enough to stop at the embassy and file the papers.
So far Russia hasn’t tipped their hand on the matter, but leaving him in the airport forever is no permanent solution, and while letting him go to the embassy is likely to irk the US, there appears to be little reason not to do so at this point.