– Russian official: Venezuela is Snowden’s “last chance” (CBC News, July 7, 2013):
An influential Russian parliament member who often speaks for the Kremlin encouraged NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday to accept Venezuela’s offer of asylum.
Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia’s parliament, posted a message on Twitter saying: “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Friday that he would grant asylum to Snowden. Bolivia and Nicaragua have said the same. But it is not clear if any of them have provided him the documents he would need to travel.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday that his country has not yet been in contact with Snowden, who Russian officials say has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago. Snowden has been unable to travel further because the United States annulled his passport.
Jaua said he expects to consult with Russian officials on Monday about Snowden’s situation.
Pushkov’s comments appeared to indicate that the Kremlin is now anxious to be rid of the former National Security Agency systems analyst, whom the U.S. wants returned to face espionage charges.
Pushkov joked that if Snowden does not find shelter in Venezuela, “he will have to stay and marry Anna Chapman,” the redheaded Russian spy who was among 10 sleeper agents deported from the United States in 2010. The 31-year-old Chapman proposed to Snowden (who just turned 30) on Twitter last week.