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Venezuela: Snowden Has Until Monday to Respond to Asylum Offer

Daniel Arkin and F. Brinley Bruton
Sunday, 7 Jul 2013 | 1:54 PM ET
Edward Snowden
Getty Images
Edward Snowden

Venezuelan officials say they have not heard from Edward Snowden since the country offered the professed NSA leaker asylum, but would wait until Monday to hear if he would take up the offer.

"There has not been any type of communication,'' Foreign Minster Elias Jaua said on state television late on Saturday. "We are waiting until Monday to know whether he confirms his wish to take asylum in Venezuela."

News of the apparent deadline followed the announcement by the president of Bolivia that it was joining Venezuela and Nicaragua in indicating that they would offer asylum to fugitive, who is believed to be hiding inside the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport as the United States continues efforts to have him extradited.

Bolivia's Evo Morales made his offer Saturday, three days after a plane carrying the leftist leader over Europe was rerouted amid reports that Snowden was aboard. The change in flight plan set off a diplomatic storm that heightened tensions between the United States and the South American nation.

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela both condemned the U.S. spy programs that Snowden revealed and said he deserved protection.

"Who is the guilty one? A young man ... who denounces war plans, or the U.S. government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?'' Maduro asked, to applause and cheers from military officers at a parade on Saturday.

Venezuela "decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden" so he can live without "persecution from the empire," Maduro said, referring to the U.S. He extended the invitation to Snowden during a speech Friday commemorating the anniversary of Venezuela's independence, according to the Associated Press.

Since winning a presidential vote in April that followed leader Hugo Chavez's death from cancer, Maduro has often criticized the United States, and accused it of plotting to kill him.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told CNN on Sunday that he "absolutely" thinks one of the South American countries will provide Snowden with travel documents.

Rogers (R-MI) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. should "send a very clear message" to the nations offering Snowden asylum "that we won't put up with this kind of behavior."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told CNN on Sunday that Snowden's revelations have hurt U.S. diplomatic relationships and "the importance of trust."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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