WikiLeaks on Tuesday denied reports that Edward Snowden had formally accepted asylum in Venezuela and promised to reveal details about the National Security Agency leaker’s plans to leave Moscow.
“Tomorrow the first phase of Edward Snowden's ‘Flight of Liberty’ campaign will be launched. Follow for further details,” said WikiLeaks in a tweet from their official account.
“Predictably, Snowden has agreed to Maduro’s offer of political asylum,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, tweeted in Russian, according to reports. “Apparently, this option appeared most reliable to Snowden.”
That message was quickly deleted, however, and Pushkov said he had based his tweet on news reports.
Snowden, who is facing espionage charges in the U.S. after disclosing secret phone and Internet surveillance programs, is seeking to avoid an extradition request.
He is currently believed to be in the transit area of Moscow's airport and has applied for asylum in more than 20 countries, according to WikiLeaks, which is providing Snowden with legal counsel.
Snowden, however, faces a difficult challenge in leaving Moscow for asylum in another country. The Obama administration is pressing other countries to not admit Snowden and to prohibit any flights carrying him to cross their airspace.
Last week, a flight carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales from Moscow was diverted to Austria and delayed after rumors Snowden was aboard.
Venezuela is one of three countries to grant Snowden asylum, along with Nicaragua and Bolivia.