Venezuela Silent on Edward Snowden as Asylum Deadline Passes

Edward Snowden
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Edward Snowden

The status of Edward Snowden's bid for asylum in Venezuela remained unclear Tuesday after the country's apparent deadline passed.

The Venezuelan Embassy in Moscow said it had no information on whether the fugitive NSA leaker had completed a deal that would allow him to leave the transit area of an airport in the Russian capital.

In Caracas, President Nicolas Maduro confirmed late Monday that Venezuela had received an official request for asylum from Snowden, telling reporters at a news conference that the self-declared leaker "will need to decide when he will fly here," according to Russia Today.

Even if Snowden agrees to an asylum deal with Venezuela, travel problems could take time to resolve: His U.S. passport has been canceled and U.S. allies may deny airspace to any flight on which he is believed to be traveling.

The Caracas offer was made in defiance of Washington and U.S. prosecutors who accuse Snowden of leaking classified documents that revealed the vast scale of the PRISM surveillance programs run by the NSA.

Bolivia and Nicaragua have also publicly offered to give safe passage to Snowden, who applied to at least 20 countries for asylum on the basis that he was a whistle-blower.

The 30-year-old former defense contractor is believed to be hiding at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport as the United States seeks to have him extradited.

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The paucity of asylum offers has led to speculation Snowden might seek to remain in Russia, creating a diplomatic headache for President Vladimir Putin, who has already made clear he wants the leaker to move elsewhere.

On Saturday, Venezuela's foreign minister Elias Jaua said: "We are waiting until Monday to know whether he confirms his wish to take asylum." That apparent deadline passed without further information from Caracas.

A spokesman for the Venezuelan Embassy in Moscow said it had no update because Snowden had not applied through the diplomatic outpost.

Meanwhile, Bolivia demanded late Monday that France, Portugal, Spain and Italy reveal who told them that Snowden was on board President Evo Morales' flight from Moscow last week.

Bolivia said it was an act of "state terrorism" by the U.S. and its European allies that the four countries banned Morales' plane from their airspace on suspicions it was carrying the U.S. fugitive to Bolivia.

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca summoned and met with the ambassadors from France, Spain, Italy and a representative of Portugal, which has no ambassador in the country, a source in the foreign ministry said. No details from the meetings were immediately available.

"We are simply asking the government of Spain and the other governments, of course, to clarify and explain where that version of Mr. Snowden being on the presidential plane came from," Communications Minister Amanda Davila said. "Who spread that fallacy, that lie?"

"This is the first case of state terrorism against a president, against a nation, against a people," she added.

—By Albina Kovalyova and Alastair Jamieson, NBC News. Reuters contributed to this report.