A sensational Russian news website on Monday published a photograph that it claims is the first to show US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden since he emerged from a Moscow airport in August.
A casually dressed man sporting a goatee with sunglasses perched on his head is pictured pushing a supermarket trolley across a road. A car with partly legible Russian plates and a crossing sign identify the scene as in Russia.
There has been no reported sighting of Snowden since he walked out of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo’s airport on August 1 after obtaining temporary asylum.
The 30-year-old former CIA security analyst is wanted by the United States after revealing details of massive surveillance by the National Security Agency to the media.
Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said he is living in a secret location in fear of being tracked down by US law enforcers.
It was not clear when the photograph on the Life News website was taken, however it is likely to be several weeks old as it is now autumn in Russia and the picture shows trees covered with green leaves.
Life News, which is the online wing of popular tabloid Tvoi Den, wrote on a Russian social networking page that it paid 100,000 rubles (about $3,000) for the photograph submitted via its website.
Kucherena last month told Itogi weekly magazine that the American manages to walk around in disguise.
“He would walk past you and you wouldn’t recognise him,” he told Itogi. “It’s a question of clothes and small alterations to his appearance…He really does walk freely around on the streets.”
Life News pointed out that the man resembling Snowden did not seem to be economising on his supermarket shop — despite reports he was running out of money.
“As you can see the former special services employee has picked up a full trolley of food according to American tradition. That clearly cost more than one thousand rubles,” it wrote.
Life News, known for eye-catching scoops, in August published photographs showing Snowden walking out of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with a huge grin on his face.
None of the journalists keeping watch at the airport spotted him at the time and it was not clear how Life News obtained the photographs.