Edward Snowden is seeking asylum from the United States, but his attempts to reach one of the Latin American nations extending an offer seem up in the air after a retracted tweet from a Russian official.
On Tuesday a Russian government official announced that Snowden had accepted an offer from Venezuela to seek asylum there, appearing to end a stalemate that has lasted for days and kept Snowden trapped in a Moscow airport. But shortly after Russian parliamentary spokesman Alexei Pushkov sent the tweet he deleted it, saying that he got his information from a news report.
The document-sharing organization WikiLeak, which has been helping Edward Snowden in his asylum quest, clarified that Snowden has yet to formally accept any of the offers.
“The Russian lawmaker concerned has deleted the tweet,” the organization said. “The states concerned will make the announcement if and when the appropriate time comes. The announcement will then be confirmed by us.”
Even if Edward Snowden does accept one of the asylum offers, he still faces a logistical nightmare in getting there. A flight from Moscow would fly through European airspace, where last week the Bolivian president was denied travel after fears that he had Snowden on board.
Should Snowden be captured, the former National Security Agency contractor faces espionage charges in the United States.
Experts contacted by CNN found ways in which Snowden could travel to Venezuela, considered his best bet for asylum. Kirk Koenig, president of Expert Aviation Consulting, said Snowden would have to find a way to avoid the airspace of European countries.
Former CIA analyst Allen Thompson told Foreign Policy that means a route that is entirely over international water.
“Leave Moscow,” Thompson said. “Fly north to the Barents Sea, thence over to and through the Denmark Strait. Continue south, steering clear of Newfoundland until getting to the east of the Windward Islands. Fly through some convenient gap between islands and continue on to Caracas.”
Should he reach Venezuela, Snowden would be welcomed. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has spoken out against the United States and its plans to prosecute Snowden.
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said. “Who is the guilty one? A young man… who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president, Bashar al-Assad?”
Edward Snowden is expected to name his asylum pick soon — Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly said that the NSA whisleblower is running out of time to make his decision.