Whistleblower Edward Snowden has accepted an offer of political asylum from Venezuela, according to a Russian politician.
Unofficial spokesman for the Kremlin Alexei Pushkov tweeted today that the fugitive, believed to be in Russia and wanted by the US authorities for leaking security secrets, is keen to take up the offer, AP reported.
The tweet was removed a few minutes after it was posted.
Soon after the tweet’s disappearance he sent another message saying his claim was based on a report from the state all-news television channel Vesti.
However, no such information could be found on Vesti’s website and no Russian news agency reported that Vesti had ever said it.
The TV channel could not immediately be reached for comment and the Kremlin declined comment on today’s developments.
Mr Snowden, who revealed details of a US intelligence program to monitor internet activity, went to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on June 23 and was believed to be headed for Cuba.
But he did not board that flight is believed to have been stranded in the airport’s transit lounge ever since.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had already offered asylum to Mr Snowden while Bolivia and Nicaragua said they too would grant asylum to the American fugitive.
Ecuador said it will consider any asylum request.
Mr Maduro said it is perhaps the world’s ‘first collective humanitarian asylum’ with various countries saying ‘Come here!’
But the United States has cancelled Mr Snowden’s passport and it is unclear if he has travel documents he would need to leave Moscow.
Mr Maduro said Mr Snowden ‘will have to decide when he flies here, if he finally wants to travel here.’
On Friday he said: ‘As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live (without) … persecution from the empire,’ Maduro said, referring to the United States.
He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.
‘In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,’ Maduro proclaimed during a military parade marking the country’s Independence Day.
‘He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world,’ Maduro said.