Russian news agencies, citing unidentified sources, reported that Snowden was staying at a hotel in the transit terminal, but he was not seen at the zone's only hotel, called Air Express. It offers several dozen capsule-style spaces that passengers can rent for a few hours to catch some sleep. Hotel staff refused to say whether Snowden was staying there or had stayed there in the past.
"We only saw lots of journalists, that's for sure," said Maxim, a waiter at the Shokoladnitsa diner not far from Air Express. He declined to give his last name because he wasn't allowed to talk to reporters.
The departure and transit area is huge and has dozens of small rooms, some labeled "authorized personnel only," where someone could potentially seek refuge with support from airport staff or security personnel. And security forces or police patrolling the area can easily whisk a person out of this area through back doors or corridors.
There are also a few VIP lounge areas, accessible to business-class passengers or people willing to pay some $20 per hour. Snowden was not seen in those areas.
Sheremetyevo's press service declined to comment on Snowden's whereabouts. A policeman at the airport laughed off a question from an AP reporter about where he might be. "Journalists have searched this place for three days and have found nothing. Was he ever here in the first place?" the policeman asked. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks gave a terse update on Snowden earlier on Wednesday, saying in a statement posted to Twitter that he was "well."
WikiLeaks says that one of its staffers, Sarah Harrison, was traveling with Snowden, but the statement gave no indication if the update came from her, from Snowden, or from some other source.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson did not immediately return a call and a text seeking further comment.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Assange said that he was limited in what he could say about Snowden due to security concerns. He denied reports that Snowden was spending his time at the airport being debriefed by Russian intelligence officers.
In another development, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon said Wednesday that he had decided not to represent the leaker. A statement from his law firm provided no further explanation.
Garzon, who has fought on WikiLeaks' behalf, became famous for indicting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 and trying to put him on trial for crimes against humanity. He was suspended from office in Spain for overstepping his powers by starting an investigation into killings committed on behalf of former Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.