NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Not on Cuba Flight But 'In a Safe Place'


Could Snowden's NSA Secrets Be Stolen?

Snowden's flight itinerary booked for today – with a stopover in Cuba before reportedly planning to head to either Venezuela or Ecuador -- heightened concerns not only about his personal motives but about the ease with which several governments unfriendly to the U.S. could copy the hard drives of his reported four laptops along the route, whether he invites them to or not, sources said.

"Does anybody think he's that stupid? That he doesn't know what a state like Russia or Cuba is capable of in terms of disk imaging?" another U.S. official familiar with the Snowden case told ABC News on Sunday. "He isn't that naive. What they can do to penetrate what he's got compared to what he can do to encrypt stuff is something he understands very well."

A program under the Department of Homeland Security allows Customs and Border Protection officers at international entry points to "image" -- or make a copy of -- the hard drives of laptops carried by travelers entering the country who have possible terror ties or have otherwise raised suspicion for criminal activity.

The FBI has amassed considerable expertise at cracking encrypted hard drives of captured al Qaeda figures, and both the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have perfected ways to penetrate encrypted systems of the savviest criminals.

Imaging a hard drive is relatively simple. Once the hard drive is copied, computer forensics experts can take their time exploiting or decrypting it at their leisure after the laptop and its owner are long gone.

When asked about the possibility other intelligence organizations getting access to Snowden's laptops, WikiLeaks' Assange would only say that Snowden's "material has been secured by the relevant journalistic organizations prior to travel."

Meanwhile, American security officials are still steamed over Snowden's escape from Hong Kong while they were negotiating his capture with Chinese officials in the sprawling city of eight million.

"They knew late Friday that we were working to answer their questions about the fugitive deportation request and at no point did Hong Kong give us any indication that there was a problem," a U.S. official told ABC News.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice had worked into the weekend to address Hong Kong's questions about the warrant for Snowden's apprehension. Senior Obama administration officials closely monitored the effort to bring the former Booz Allen contractor to justice for allegedly leaking highly classified files to three newspapers.

Now, former CIA agent Brandwin, who posts on Twitter under the handle @CIAspygirl, says, it appears some major world powers are playing "hot potato, hot potato."

"I think we're all just collectively waiting to see where the music stops, to see where he lands," she said. "It's the most epic game of Marco Polo ever."

ABC News' Megan Chuchmach, Matthew Mosk, Lee Ferran, Tanya Stukalova and Dragana Jovanovic contributed to this report.

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