A Russian lawmaker caused a diplomatic stir Tuesday by briefly tweeting — then deleting — news that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had accepted Venezuela’s offer of asylum.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, then followed up by saying his source for the report was an 18-hour-old report by the Russian TV news program “Vesti 24.”
Pushkov, who has played an unofficial role for the Kremlin on the Snowden affair in the past, seemed especially eager this time to put plenty of distance between himself and the whole matter.
“Contact them about this question,” he tweets in Russian, referring to “Vesti 24.”
It was not clear what “Vesti 24” report he was referring to. The Russian TV program on Monday noted, as others have, that Snowden — who has requested asylum in two dozen countries — had also appealed to Venezuela.
President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, has already offered asylum to Snowden, who apparently is holed up in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport.
In it’s report on Monday, “Vesti 24” quotes Maduro as saying Snowden still has to make one small decision — how and when to go to Venezuela.
Bolivia and Nicaragua also say they’ll grant asylum. Ecuador says it will consider any request.
Maduro says it is perhaps the world’s “first collective humanitarian asylum” with various countries saying “Come here!”
But the United States has cancelled Snowden’s passport and it’s unclear if he has travel documents he would need to leave Moscow.
Maduro says Snowden “will have to decide when he flies here, if he finally wants to travel here.”
He made the comments late Monday in a meeting with Panama’s president. The remarks were distributed Tuesday by his office.
VIA – USA TODAY