WikiLeaks: Snowden Has Not Accepted Asylum in Venezuela

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In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (credit: The Guardian via Getty Images)

In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (credit: The Guardian via Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — WikiLeaks claims that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has not yet formally accepted asylum in Venezuela after a Russian lawmaker tweeted, then deleted minutes later, that Snowden accepted asylum from the South American country.

“The states concerned will make the announcement if and when the appropriate time comes. The announcement will then be confirmed by us,” WikiLeaks posted on Twitter.

The Associated Press reports that Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov initially tweeted that Snowden accepted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s political asylum request.

“Predictably, Snowden has agreed to Maduro’s offer of political asylum. Apparently, this option appeared most reliable to Snowden,” Pushkov tweeted.

But the post was deleted minutes after Pushkov tweeted the information.

The AP reports that Pushkov sent another message saying his claim was based on a report from the state all-news television channel Rossiya 24, also known as Vesti.

The channel said Pushkov misunderstood its report, which the anchorwoman had introduced by saying “Venezuela has finally received an answer” from Snowden.

She then clarified that Venezuela had received Snowden’s official request for asylum and showed a clip of President Maduro saying in Russian voiceover while talking Monday that “he should decide when to fly to Caracas, if he indeed has decided to come here.”

Snowden has been holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for over two weeks after leaving Hong Kong. Snowden has been in limbo since the U.S. State Department annulled his passport.

In a video released by The Guardian Monday, Snowden claimed the NSA gathers all communications into and out of the U.S. for analysis, despite NSA claims that it only targets foreign traffic.

Snowden also said NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander lied to Congress by saying the agency could not determine how many U.S. communications are gathered — something Snowden says NSA auditing tool Boundless Informant does.

The video was filmed in June before Snowden left Hong Kong to avoid extradition to the U.S.

Snowden is charged with violating U.S. espionage laws for leaking information about NSA surveillance of Internet and telephone records to detect terrorist plots.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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