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Edward Snowden 'has accepted an asylum offer from Venezuela', or has he?

The 30-year-old, who leaked details of the US’ vast surveillance operation, has agreed to an offer of political asylum from Venezuela, a top pro-Kremlin lawmaker said in a tweet that was later deleted.

Updated 4.10pm

EDWARD SNOWDEN HAS accepted an offer of asylum from Venezuela according to a lawmaker close to the Kremlin in Moscow, where the former NSA employee has been based in an airport transit lounge for over a fortnight.

“As was expected, Snowden agreed to (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro’s offer of political asylum,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, said on Twitter.

However, the tweet was deleted a few minutes later. AP said it was not possible to immediately reach Pushkov, who has acted as an unofficial point-man for the Kremlin on the Snowden affair.

Yesterday it was revealed that the High Court in Dublin refused an application by the United States to issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden who is wanted on multiple espionage charges.

He disclosed a vast number of details about America’s secret surveillance programmes where it collects phone and internet data as part of its operations to combat terrorism.

Snowden, 30, applied to 21 different countries for asylum – including Ireland – but most turned him down. Only Venezuela, Bolivia and the Central American state of Nicaragua said they would be open to his request.

But it remains unclear how the world’s most famous refugee would be able to leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo, where he has been marooned without valid documents since he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23.

There are no direct flights between Moscow and Caracas. The quickest way to get to Venezuela would be to fly via Havana.

A spokeswoman for Russian national carrier Aeroflot, Irina Danenberg, said she was not aware if Snowden had been on the flight to Havana that left Moscow earlier Tuesday. “I have no clue,” she said.

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There are no direct flights to Havana from Moscow tomorrow.

- with reporting from AFP and Associated Press

First published 3.42pm

Ireland: High Court refuses arrest warrant for Snowden

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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