Russian lawmaker tweets and deletes claim former US spy accepted political asylum in Venezuela

Former US spy agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has accepted Venezuela’s offer of asylum, according to a tweet from Alexei Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker close to the Kremlin.

Pushkov is head of the lower house's Committee on Foreign Affairs. The tweet from the account @Alexy_Pushkov has since been deleted. Roughly translated, it read:

Predictably, Snowden has agreed to Maduro's offer of political asulum. Apparently this option appeared most reliable to Snowden.

He later issued another tweet saying he had based the earlier tweet on an 18-hour-old report by Russian TV news programme Vesti 24.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro had already offered asylum to Snowden, who is currently residing in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport, along with Bolivia and Nicaragua.

For Snowden to leave for South America, he would need Venezuela to issue him travel documents. There could also be complications getting there, as the only direct commercial flight from Moscow stops in Havana, which would involve flying over Europe and the US. Last week, a plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to land over suspicions that Snowden was on the plane.