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Russian Official: Venezuela Is Edward Snowden’s Last Chance

FILE - This June 23, 2013 file photo shows a TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong. The saga of Edward Snowden and the NSA makes one thing clear: The United States' central role in developing the Internet and hosting its most powerful players has made it the global leader in the surveillance game . Other countries, from dictatorships to democracies, are also avid snoopers, tapping into the high-capacity fiber optic cables to intercept Internet traffic, scooping their citizens' data off domestic servers, and even launching cyberattacks to win access to foreign networks. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

FILE - This June 23, 2013 file photo shows a TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, at a shopping mall in Hong Kong. The saga of Edward Snowden and the NSA makes one thing clear: The United States' central role in developing the Internet and hosting its most powerful players has made it the global leader in the surveillance game . Other countries, from dictatorships to democracies, are also avid snoopers, tapping into the high-capacity fiber optic cables to intercept Internet traffic, scooping their citizens' data off domestic servers, and even launching cyberattacks to win access to foreign networks. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)  (ap)

While Venezuela has not yet been in contact with Edward Snowden, an influential Russian parliament member is encouraging the NSA leaker to accept the South American country’s offer of asylum.

Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia's parliament, posted a message on Twitter on Sunday saying: "Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum."

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday that his country has yet been to hear from Snowden, who Russian officials say has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago. He has been unable to travel further because the United States annulled his passport.

Jaua said he expects to consult with Russian officials on Monday about Snowden's situation.

Pushkov's comments appeared to indicate that the Kremlin is now anxious to be rid of the former National Security Agency systems analyst, whom the U.S. wants returned to face espionage charges.

There has been no response from the Kremlin or Russian Foreign Ministry to the asylum offer made by Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in the early hours of Saturday, Moscow time.

For Snowden to leave for South America, he would need for Venezuela to issue him travel documents and he would need to find a way to get there. The only direct commercial flight from Moscow goes to Havana, Cuba, and Snowden had booked a seat on this flight the day after arriving from Hong Kong, but failed to show up.

The Moscow-Havana flight goes over Europe and the United States, which could cause complications. Some European countries refused to allow Bolivian President Evo Morales to fly through their airspace on his way home from Moscow last week because of suspicions that Snowden was onboard his plane.

Pushkov joked that if Snowden does not find shelter in Venezuela, "he will have to stay and marry Anna Chapman," the redheaded Russian spy who was among 10 sleeper agents deported from the United States in 2010. The 31-year-old Chapman proposed to Snowden, who just turned 30, on Twitter last week.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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