Russia Official: Venezuela Last Chance for Snowden

MOSCOW (AP) -

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 online saying: “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday his country hasn’t 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. He has been unable to travel further because the U.S. annulled his passport. Jaua said he expects to consult with Russian officials on Monday about the situation.

Pushkov’s comments appeared to indicate that the Kremlin is anxious to be rid of the former NSA systems analyst.

For Snowden to leave for South America, he would need for Venezuela to issue him travel documents and he would need to find a way to get there. The only direct commercial flight from Moscow goes to Havana, Cuba, and Snowden had booked a seat on this flight the day after arriving from Hong Kong, but failed to show up.

The Moscow-Havana flight goes over Europe and the U.S., which could cause complications.

The presidents of Bolivia and Nicaragua also said over the weekend that Snowden was welcome in their countries. Bolivia’s foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said Sunday on state media that his country hasn’t yet received a formal petition for asylum from Snowden. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country’s embassy in Moscow has received Snowden’s application and is studying the request.

Snowden has applied for asylum in more than two dozen countries, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, according to WikiLeaks, which has been advising him.