Hong Kong: The former CIA employee who suddenly burst into headlines around the globe by revealing himself as the source of top-secret leaks about US surveillance programmes has just as quickly gone to ground again.
Two days after he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel where he told the Guardian newspaper that he had "no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong", Edward Snowden was nowhere to be found on Tuesday, despite being the central figure in the biggest news story in the world.
Snowden, in his Sunday interview with the newspaper, had said he wanted to avoid the media spotlight, noting he didn`t want "the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."
With little new information to report on Snowden or his whereabouts, Hong Kong`s notoriously boisterous newspapers, and others around the world, fixated on his American girlfriend, a dancer who posted partially nude photographs of herself online before she also apparently disappeared.
"Spy on the run: girlfriend ill at ease," read one Apple Daily headline above a picture of the 28-year-old Lindsay Mills in a provocative pose taken from her blog, which has since gone offline.
Mills is not believed to be travelling with Snowden, who is thought to still be in Hong Kong.
Apple Daily quoted unidentified sources with the Hong Kong immigration department as saying they had no record of Snowden leaving the territory. A spokesman for the department, speaking on routine condition of anonymity, said it could not confirm the paper`s information because it did not comment on individual cases.
Reporter Ewen MacAskill of Britain`s the Guardian newspaper, who interviewed Snowden for exclusive stories about his revelations, wrote late Tuesday that "it is thought" Snowden was now in a private home in Hong Kong, but offered no details.
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who also interviewed Snowden in Hong Kong, has given a series of interviews about the case, but refused to reveal any information about Snowden`s location or his future plans.
Despite the uncertainty, Hong Kong supporters of the 29-year-old American have organised a protest march featuring local human rights activists and prominent pro-democracy politicians to pass in front of the US Consulate on Saturday afternoon.
"We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden," the organisers said in a news release.
Snowden arrived in Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20, just after taking leave from his National Security Agency contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which has since fired him.