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Is He Or Isn't He? Much Confusion Over Snowden And Venezuela

Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with <em>The Guardian</em>.
Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras
Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with The Guardian.

Update at 9:40 p.m. ET. Snowden Likely To Seek Asylum In Venezuela

According to Glenn Greenwald, the U.S. journalist who has been at the forefront of the NSA leak case, former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is likely to seek asylum in Venezuela, reports the Associated Press.

"In an interview immediately after speaking to Snowden by online chat, Greenwald said Venezuela, one of three Latin American countries that have offered Snowden asylum, is the one most likely to guarantee safe passage for the former contractor, especially as the United States pressures other nations not to take him once he leaves his current limbo at a Russian airport."

Greenwald told the AP that a resolution to the situation is still unclear and could take "days or hours or weeks."

Our original post continues:

Don't search for "Snowden" on Twitter right now unless you want to end up totally confused.

Or just want to be amused.

We'll walk through the dizzying developments of the past hour or so:

-- First, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee of Russia's state Duma, tweeted that "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden had accepted an asylum offer from Venezuela. Snowden, as you probably know, is thought to be in legal limbo at the transit zone of Moscow's airport. He's trying to avoid being sent back to the U.S., where he would be prosecuted for spilling secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

-- Pushkov's tweet led to a flurry of retweets, an Associated Press report about Pushkov's statement, and a slew of stories on news sites around the Web.

-- Then Pushkov deleted his tweet. Uh-oh. That's usually a sign that someone thinks he shouldn't have said what he just said.

-- Pushkov came back minutes later with a tweet that said, "Information that Snowden accepted an offer of asylum from Maduro came from 18-hour release of 'Vesti 24.' " That's a Russian news channel.

-- But Vesti 24 wasn't mentioning this scoop on its website or on its Twitter page. Hmm. Instead, NPR's Corey Flintoff told us from Moscow that "Vesti 24's 7 p.m. is quoting Pushkov" about Snowden's supposed-decision.

-- Meanwhile, reports popped up that the government of Venezuela had "confirmed" that Snowden accepted its offer. But the story those reports were citing had Pushkov, not Venezuelan authorities, as its source.

So, we had a couple circles. Pushkov cited Vesti 24, which cited Pushkov. And the Venezuelans cited Pushkov, who cited Vesti 24, which was citing Pushkov.

Got that?

Meanwhile, where will Snowden end up if he does leave the transit area of Moscow's airport — where he's been the past two weeks?

As we've said, Venezuela is among the likely places. He may need a private jet to get there, though.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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