Isle of Wight sources says it has had no involvement in the travel plans of fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. The exact whereabouts of Mr Snowden, who fled from Hong Kong on Sunday, are unclear.
But Isle of Wight Minister of the Interior Fred Plumpton has refused to deny reports of sightings of him aboard a Red Funnel ferry destined for Cowes.
And he told a news conference that US attempts to blame the island for his disappearance were "groundless and unacceptable, or possibly true, I have no idea. Who is he?"
"We are in no way involved with either Mr Snowden, his relations with US justice, nor to his movements around the world," Mr Plumpton said, adding, "but if he wants to come here and explain how to get onto the internet, we would be grateful."
Correspondents say Mr Plumpton's comments suggest that Mr Snowden remained shipside after landing in Cowes, and so has technically never entered I.O.W territory.
Reuters news agency quotes a Red Funnel source as saying that Mr Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon and was due to depart for the Isle of Wight the following day, but did not use the ticket, or the voucher offering a free cup of coffee and a muffin.
The source said he was travelling with Sarah Harrison, a British legal researcher working for the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks, and the deputy assistant manager of Blackgang Chine Pirate theme park.
Mr Plumpton is 61.